The latest on the 35W disaster in Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS - Fears that an interstate bridge collapse might produce dozens of deaths eased Friday as authorities said the number of missing, once thought to be as many as 30, was just eight.Considering the time of the day and the amount of traffic, the death toll could have been much higher. That is little consolation to the families of those who did lose their lives. God bless them all.
At least five people were killed and 79 injured when the Interstate 35W bridge plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River during Wednesday's rush hour.
Firefighters pulled the fifth victim, the driver of a tractor-trailer rig that was engulfed in flames immediately after the collapse, from the wreckage late Thursday, fire department spokeswoman Kristi Rollwagen said. Video of the fire was among the most compelling images show in the immediate aftermath of the collapse.
The medical examiner's office was working to confirm the man's identity, but Rollwagen said firefighters didn't want the man's family to see the truck "over and over" on TV knowing he was inside.
More bodies had been spotted in the fast-moving currents, which were "even more treacherous" Friday than a day earlier, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said. But the death toll, while expected to grow, was not expected to reach the numbers that the disaster amid bumper-to-bumper, two-lane traffic might have produced.
So what was the cause of the collapse?
Structural deficiencies in the Interstate 35W bridge that collapsed Wednesday were so serious that the Minnesota Department of Transportation last winter considered bolting steel plates to its supports to prevent cracking in fatigued metal, according to documents and interviews with agency officials.Nothing gets done in this country till a tragedy occurs. Bureaucratic footdragging is always the first response when a major project like the repair of the 35W bridge is needed. The public is also to blame, we rather take risks than pay higher taxes too.
The department went so far as to ask contractors for advice on the best way to approach such a task, which could have been opened for bids later this year.
MnDOT considered the steel plating at the recommendation of consulting engineers who told the agency that there were two ways to keep the bridge safe: Make repairs throughout the 40-year-old steel arched bridge or inspect it closely enough to find flaws that might become cracks and then bolt the steel plating only on those sections.
Fears about bridge safety fueled emotional debate within the agency, according to a construction industry source. But on the I-35W bridge, transportation officials opted against making the repairs.
Press reports are saying tens of thousands of bridges in the US are in need of work. This was known before Wednesday's tragedy. However here in Florida, our officials are taking a "Don't worry, Be happy" approach.
All Florida Bridges are safe, sure. I believe in Fairy Godmothers too. This kind of reporting and bureaucratic always follows a scandal or disaster. It can never happen here.
Florida officials sought to reassure motorists Thursday the state's 11,000 bridges are safe, one day after an eight-lane freeway bridge in Minneapolis collapsed at the height of evening rush hour.
The Minnesota span was classified as "structurally deficient," along with thousands of other bridges nationally, including 32 in Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to federal records."It's never really crossed my mind, but now that something like this happened it creates a question," said Joaquin Gomez, 46, of Miami. "It makes you kind of wonder if they do serial checks of the bridge and the foundation, if it's up to par."
Federal officials have alerted states to immediately inspect all bridges similar to the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River. Florida does not have any state bridges like the one that collapsed in Minneapolis.
Gov. Charlie Crist asked the head of the Florida Department of Transportation for a status report on all Florida's bridges.
I live in Lantana Florida, and my wife or I cross a bridge over I-95 on average four times a day. There are days when waiting for traffic, that you feel the bridge vibrating. This hasn't happened once but dozens of times in our experience. I'm not saying the bridge is unsafe for I'm not an engineer, still its idiotic to come out and say Florida couldn't have a disaster similar to what happened on I-35W.
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