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Continued: Ten-lane span with '08 finish is the plan

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON and CURT BROWN , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: August 7, 2007 - 11:28 PM

Minneapolis police Capt. Mike Martin marveled at the divers' coordinated efforts. "It's like an orchestra down there -- it's unbelievable," he said. "It's basically a crime lab underwater and these are the best divers in the world."

The FBI divers, who will collect human remains, won't be able to use an unmanned submarine with a grabbing arm they brought along because of currents and cramped underwater conditions, said Paul McCabe, an FBI agent in Minneapolis. He said they'll try to use a shoebox-size remote-controlled tool equipped with lights and a video camera.

Removal creates logistical problems out of the water, too.

Salvage cranes from Bolander & Sons are in place and ready to remove bridge debris from the river, but must wait for the recovery work to end.

Martin, meanwhile, said the 10th Avenue bridge that runs parallel to the collapsed span will remain closed indefinitely "to ensure dignity at the site" for families of the missing. He said police are concerned about cars rear-ending each other as people slow to look at the wreckage.

Federal help wanted

Politicians moved on other fronts in response to the collapse. The Hennepin County Board voted to ask Pawlenty to petition President Bush for a disaster declaration in Minneapolis and the county to help access the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance Grant Program, the Federal Aid Highway Emergency Relief Grant program and other aid. The last time Hennepin County asked for such a declaration was 10 years ago during a flood.

Pawlenty's office is evaluating whether to make the request. He also said his staff counsel is looking at the possibility of setting up a special victims' aid fund to help those hurt by the collapse.

U.S. Sens. Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar also are attempting to speed up the request for nearly $160 million in federal funding of the Northstar commuter rail line in response to the bridge collapse.

In the early evening, Rybak and Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan joined members of the families of several victims for a private gathering in a park on the Augsburg College campus. Dozens of people stood in a large circle and observed a moment of silence to honor the victims and those who came to their aid.

Pawlenty ordered that flags be flown at half staff today in honor of those who died.

Staff writers Jim Foti and Bill McAuliffe and the Associated Press contributed to this report. raolson@startribune.com • 612-673-1747 curt.brown@startribune.com • 612-673-4767

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