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Klobuchar requests hearing on 35W bridge

  • March 25, 2008 - 9:52 PM

The closing of the Hwy. 23 bridge in St. Cloud and the release of photos showing gusset plate deformation on the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis prompted Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday to urge the National Transportation Safety Board to hold an interim hearing on the I-35W bridge collapse.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., plans to visit the St. Cloud bridge today. She said gusset plate damage on both bridges -- which are similarly designed -- underscores the need for more transparency in the board's investigation. The federal agency should proceed with the "input and understanding of the public," she said in her letter.

The NTSB said last week that the majority of its five directors, including Chairman Mark Rosenker, voted against holding an interim public hearing on the investigation into the Aug. 1 collapse of the I-35W bridge. NTSB staff had said a hearing would impede the investigation's progress.

Two NTSB directors dissented from the majority opinion.

The dissenters also said ultimate transparency was needed to address political division in Minnesota and elsewhere over the NTSB's handling of the case.

Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., was the first to urge the NTSB to reconsider its decision not to hold an interim public hearing. He said that the move was "contemptuous" and that the investigation could benefit from public airing.

Rosenker has said the NTSB will release findings as it goes along and hold a public hearing when the agency's final probable-cause report is written. The report is expected by the end of the year.

TONY KENNEDY

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