Following are some of the points made by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in its response to the Gray Plant Mooty report commissioned by the Legislature after the I-35W bridge collapse:
• Bridge safety has not been compromised by funding considerations.
• Contrary to a conclusion in the report, MnDOT did follow through effectively on the advice of consultants.
• Regarding a recommendation that a centralized emergency funding source be developed for major bridge projects, MnDOT can shift money within its appropriation if needed, and the department would like to explore other possible funding mechanisms that have been suggested.
• MnDOT strives to attract and retain experienced engineers, as the report recommends, but the state's salary structure makes it hard for the state to compete with private-sector employers and, at times, local governments.
• MnDOT's Bridge Office is working to more clearly assign and document decisionmaking responsibilities.
• MnDOT is working to more clearly define Central Office and District Office distribution of responsibilities.
See the full MnDOT response, as well as the Gray Plant Mooty report, at www.startribune.com/a4521.
OTHER I-35W BRIDGE INVESTIGATIONS:
• National Transportation Safety Board: The federal agency conducting the official inquiry into the August 2007 bridge collapse is expected to release its report later this year. It has said preliminary indications are that under-designed gusset plates on the 1960s-era bridge likely played a role in the disaster.
• Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc: The private consultant hired by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and MnDOT initially was to conduct a separate probe of the collapse but has since been working in conjunction with the NTSB. A separate report from the firm is expected later this year, according to MnDOT.
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