Reports released locally indicate that the Federal Government is stating that inspections done on the Interstate 35W Bridge which collapsed yesterday had shown the bridge suffered from structural deficiencies over 2 years ago.
The bridge collapsed unexpectedly at 6:05 p.m. yesterday, during the peak of rush hour. It is estimated that over 140,000 cars passed over this bridge on a daily basis.
There are still 20-30 people reported missing. The injured number near 60, with 5 people confirmed dead. These numbers are expected to rise.
Locally, reports are emerging that the bridge was inspected in 2005, and at that time the Federal Government reports indicate that the bridge scored a 50 on a scale of 1 to 120. This score indicates that structural deficiencies were identified. It is further being reported that this report would have put responsibility on the State of Minnesota to address these issues.
President Bush is expected to address the collapse in a news conference scheduled for 10:00 am this morning.
This is huge news. If it becomes apparent that the State failed to address structural defects, one can only surmise the number and scale of lawsuits that may ensue.
In 2006, more than 73,000 bridges were rated as "structurally deficient" while an additional 80,000 were "functionally obsolete," according to federal transportation statistics.
A spokesperson from Washington discussed this issue on Good Morning America, and urged people not to be overly concerned when using bridges throughout the US. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that it will take $1.6 trillion over the next five years to get the nation's roads, bridges, dams, water systems and airports into good condition.
There has been no Federal disaster status assigned to this bridge collapse. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds over the next few days.
The Federal Government has dispatched engineering teams, the FBI, The Environmental Protection Agency and FEMA to the site, in an attempt to determine exactly what caused this horrific collapse. Although it has been continuously denied that there was any terrorist involvement, the FBI will be doing specific investigations to completely rule out this possibility. It seems obvious at this point that no one wants to take responsibility for this event.
It will be the job of the Governor to put together enough information regarding this disaster, and present it to the Federal Government in order to request Federal Aid.
Laura Bush is expected to arrive in Minneapolis tomorrow to personally view the site. Reporters indicate she will be the "eyes and ears" of the President.
Rush hour was heavy, but not as heavy as anticipated. Media is suggesting that many stayed home today, in wake of the tragedy, and we won't know for certain the effect the loss of this bridge will have on the general public until next week.
It will be at least two years before this bridge can be rebuilt. Estimates of the cost of reconstruction are being reported to be near $250 million. There is also conversation that the State may be granted $5 million from the Federal Government to assist in the rerouting of area traffic during the rebuilding of the bridge.
Although the focus is still on the victims of this bridge collapse, more and more conversation is emerging regarding just how huge an impact the loss of this bridge will have on area traffic. The rerouting of over 140,000 cars on a daily basis for over 2 years will be a huge undertaking.