The fourth anniversary Monday of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis included the unveiling of a new memorial honoring those who died in the tragedy.
But the gathering did not include former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was in office when the collapse occurred.
Alex Conant, a spokesman for Pawlenty, who is now in the middle of a presidential bid, told a reporter that Pawlenty was scheduled to be in Florida on Monday and Tuesday. The Tampa Tribune reported that the former Minnesota governor was on a two-day fundraising tour in that state.
Pawlenty, who left office in January, has long taken aim at critics who blamed his administration following the collapse. In his book, “Courage to Stand”, Pawlenty wrote that an unnamed DFL legislator phoned him in the “very first hour” after the event to tell the Republican governor that he would “use this tragedy politically to carve me up”.
In his book, Pawlenty also recounted how he publicly misspoke in the early hours following the collapse when he said that “the bridge had been inspected in recent years and no major problems had been discovered.
“That information would turn out to be inaccurate,” Pawlenty wrote. “In the coming days, further research would uncover that in a series of inspection reports over the years, concerns about the bridge had been expressed by various people. In the end, none of those specific concerns turned out to be the reason why the bridge fell.”
A federal National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded that a 40-year-old design error involving the bridge’s gusset plates led to the collapse. Though the bridge’s corrosion did not contribute to the collapse, a federal investigator said, it was a “source of concern.”
In his remarks at the bridge memorial ceremony Monday, Gov. Mark  Dayton said the collapse was one of those “unspeakable, unfathomable, why-God moments.”
Conant did not respond to a message asking whether the former governor thought about attending the ceremony.