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Continued: Gas-tax increase to fix bridges is a tough sell

  • Article by: KEVIN DIAZ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 5, 2007 - 9:49 PM

At the hearing, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said that some NTSB investigators are likely to work at the collapse site until at least November, "or however long it takes for the critical bridge components to be recovered."

Rosenker said there is still "considerable work remaining for us to determine why it collapsed" because much of the bridge superstructure is underwater. Still submerged, for example, are certain gusset plates that the NTSB previously identified as important to the investigation.

The flat steel gusset plates held the bridge's steel beams together. Rosenker said Wednesday that a failure in just one of the plates could have had catastrophic consequences. The plates were part of a bridge design more than 40 years old that is now obsolete because it included no redundancies against a collapse.

Investigators have confirmed damage in some gusset plates, but have not determined if the failures contributed to the collapse or resulted from the collapse.

Rosenker also said the latest calculations by the NTSB indicate that 190 people and 110 vehicles were involved in the accident.

Staff writer Tony Kennedy contributed to this report.

How important a role should aesthetics play when MNDOT selects the team to build the replacement span? Weigh in at www.startribune.com/a3294.

Kevin Diaz • kdiaz@startribune.com

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