Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cause of the Minneapolis 35-W Bridge Collapse Revealed

With little fan fair and not much publicity from major media outlets, the National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB) released their findings of the cause of the horrific 35-W bridge collapse that occurred back on August 1st, 2007 in Minneapolis. According to the NTSB, a design error led to undersized gusset plates being used for the construction of the steel-deck truss bridge that opened for public use back in 1967. According to their findings, the gusset plates, which connect steel beams, were only half as thick as required for the bridge to meet federal guidelines. Thirteen (13) people were killed and more than 100 were injured when the bridge fell without warning into the mighty Mississippi River.

As I discussed in my previous article on this topic titled "The State of US Infrastructure," it was noted that the 35-W bridge was deemed "structurally deficient" by the Federal Government as far back as the year 1990. With the latest NTSB findings, the question of why the undersized gusset plates used for the construction of the bridge were not discovered during the multitude of additional bridge inspections that occurred over its 40 year lifetime.

Although the families of the bridge collapse victims may find some peace and gain some closure with the NTSB's findings, I still personally feel that the tragic accident was preventable and more should be being done now to ensure another horrific disaster like the 35-W bridge collapse doesn't occur again in the future.

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