| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free e-book! Quality Control

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Mayor: Bridges No Safer Since Collapse

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

Five years after the catastrophic failure of Minneapolis’s I-35 Bridge, are America’s bridges any safer?

No, says the mayor whose city suffered the disaster.

Public officials still lack the political will to muster sufficient resources to repair, replace and improve the nation’s tens of thousands of problem bridges, says R.T. Rybak, Minneapolis’s mayor then and now.

 The I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed August 1, 2007.


About 1,000 feet of the I-35 Bridge’s center span collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, leaving 13 people dead and 145 injured.

Public outcry over the plight of the nation’s aging infrastructure “went away when the cameras went away,” leaving Minneapolis and other cities nationwide in the same danger they faced just before the disaster of August 2007, Rybak told WPXI-TV in an interview on the eve of the anniversary.

‘Could Happen Again’

“This kind of thing could happen again in cities around the country, and in large part because all those promises that all these people from other political levels made to make sure that this ‘never happened again’ have really been broken,” Rybak said.

In 2009, 71,181 of the United States’ 603,307 bridges were classified as structurally deficient and 78,482 as functionally obsolete, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

13 People Killed

On Aug. 1, 2007, the center span of Minnesota’s busiest bridge collapsed 108 feet into the 15-foot-deep Mississippi River in the middle of rush hour. A total of 111 vehicles were on the eight-lane, 1,000-foot segment of deck truss that collapsed.

Ultimately, 17 vehicles were recovered from the river; 13 people died; and 145 were injured.

Roadway work was underway at the time, with equipment and aggregates delivered several hours earlier and staged in the two inside lanes in preparation for a concrete pour later that evening.

Design, Loads Cited

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation, detailed in a 178-page final report, laid the cause to:

• Insufficient bridge design firm quality control procedures for designing bridges;

• Insufficient federal and state procedures for reviewing and approving bridge design plans and calculations;

• Lack of guidance for bridge owners with regard to placing construction loads during repair or maintenance;

• Exclusion of gusset plates in bridge load rating guidance;

• Lack of inspection guidance for conditions of gusset plate distortion; and

• Inadequate use of technologies for accurately assessing the condition of gusset plates on deck truss bridges.

‘We Have Not Delivered’

Rybak said that the situation is no better now.

“The one thing that remains an incredibly sore spot, and I think it should, is that we have not delivered on the promise that we would do everything it took to make sure that this did not happen again,” he said in the interview.

Interview with R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis

The “big push for fixing bridges that need to be repaired, that we all heard about in those hours after the bridge collapsed, kind of went away when the cameras went away,” he said.

“And that’s deeply, deeply troubling to me. And it should be. And so I remain pretty upset that we haven’t been able to get the political consensus to stop another human tragedy from happening.”

Watch the interview.

‘Progress Made’

NTSB chairman Debbie Hersman, however, took a more optimistic view in a blog entry on Wednesday’s anniversary. She credited the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials with efforts to improve safety.

“Five years later, we recognize the progress made to address the deficiencies identified during our comprehensive investigation,” she wrote.

Hersman said that six of the NTSB’s recommendations to improve bridge integrity and maintenance “were addressed in less than two years after the report.”

“This includes recommendations calling for improving guidance on conducting load rating calculations, consideration of key bridge elements such as gusset plates in design and inspection, and developing specifications and guidance for bridge owners to ensure that construction loads and stockpiled raw materials needed for maintenance projects do not overload the bridge.”

Those changes “will not only ensure that new bridges are being built to higher standards than their predecessors, but that all bridges will be held to that same, high standard through regular inspections and maintenance.”

“Nobody,” she wrote, “wants to see tragedy strike in such a manner ever again.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Failure analysis; Health and safety

Comment from William Feliciano, (8/2/2012, 10:59 AM)

I agree with NTSB Chairman Hersman that engineering changes implement after the accident will go a long way. But what people forget is that to effectively implement those changes takes $$$, and that is what our nation has and continues to fall short on.

Comment from John Fauth, (8/2/2012, 1:07 PM)

This article, and the mayor's assertion, dovetail exceptionally well with sentiments expressed in the "New Bridge Health Index" article (and subsequent comments).

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

RPB Respiratory

With RPB Safety’s new Nova 3 Cassette Lens System which has been specifically designed to save you time and money! See the benefits for yourself now!

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings

Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !

SAFE Systems, Inc.
Portable Dust Collectors for Tough Environments

Trailer and skid-mounted models in numerous sizes, powered by electric and/or diesel. Sloped roofs, multiple dust inlets, high static, dampered fans. Lockable power & drive compartments.

Atlantic Design, Inc.

The ADI HD40 Dust Collector is a smaller, more economical way to meet/ exceed Industry standards. Watch the video for details on our website. 866.Call.ADI


The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal

Strip it, clean it, and profile it,
all dust free! High production
rates and Blast like finishes.
Comply with new lead

Absolute Equipment/Grand Rental Station
Portable Power from Absolute Equipment

•Lighting Systems
•Light Compaction
Sales • Rental • Service
Call 1-866-931-6655
Over a century of
providing excellence.

U.S. Zinc
Products. Customized With U.S.

Our plant can produce multiple grades of zinc dust. In fact, we offer the most comprehensive product line in the industry, including special additive blends.

Abrasives Inc.
Check our Prices for Blast Abrasives

Faced with higher abrasive costs? We invite you to call & check our rates on Black Magic® coal slag and other quality blast materials. Abrasives Inc. 800-584-7524

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail