Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Continued: A picture of the missing and a timetable to build emerge

The process has been hard on families of the missing, who are "just waiting for word, any kind of word," said Red Cross spokesman Ted Canova.

As they have every day, hundreds of onlookers tried in vain Saturday to get a good look at the scene but were kept far back by police. The nearby Stone Arch and 10th Street bridges were closed.

Stanek appeared to acknowledge that frustration Saturday. He said officials may change how close people may come "in the very near future."

Investigators said it could take months to determine what caused the collapse. But they said that the bridge's southern superstructure was not the cause. Examining the northern part of the structure will be more difficult, they said.

'The president understands'

Through a daylong drizzle, the devastation was painfully clear to Bush. He said he would press U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters "to listen to the local authorities to find out what the folks here need. I do promise that when she sees roadblocks and hurdles in the way of getting the job done she'll do everything she can to eliminate them."

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who accompanied Bush on the tour, said afterward that the president didn't commit to a specific spending figure but said he would do what it takes to help rebuild the bridge. "We believe the president understands that we need a continued commitment from the government," Rybak said.

During the visit, Bush got a close-up view of the damage and greeted divers, firefighters and family members of some victims.

He arrived on Air Force One at 8:53 a.m. at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and taxied to the Air Force Reserve hangar. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman and Reps. Michele Bachmann, Keith Ellison and John Kline joined him on the trip and were met at the airport by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, his wife, Mary, and Rybak.

In Marine One, the group hovered for several minutes over the collapsed bridge before landing along West River Parkway near the University of Minnesota. The entourage was driven to the bridge scene.

Bush greeted rescuer

At the edge of a collapsed bridge deck, Bush talked for several minutes with Gary Babineau, 24, of Blaine, who said he had been driving his pickup across the bridge when it gave way. Babineau said he described for the president how a school bus was trapped on the broken structure.

"He asked me where my truck was, about the kids on the bus, what I saw of the bridge going down," Babineau said afterward. "I told him about running over to the bus and grabbing all the kids off the bus ... me and other people ... and grabbing kids off the bridge and bringing them down to street level.

"He said, 'Great job.' He's proud how everyone came together," said Babineau, who said he told the president that he's expecting to become a father in 10 days. "The president said he ... is going to write my child a letter when it's born," Babineau said.

Bush said he would push to speed up reconstruction that results in a bridge "that can stand the test of time."

The federal government has pledged $5 million to help remove debris and to reroute traffic. The House and Senate have approved a bill for up to $255 million for a new bridge.

At a news conference after Bush's visit, Pawlenty and Rybak said the president pledged federal reimbursement for extra law enforcement expenses, and help to remove debris and to investigate the cause of the accident. He also offered to seek waivers from some federal permit requirements, they said.

Green light to remove debris

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close