Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says that the state has 27 steel truss bridges that are similarly designed to the Minneapolis Bridge that collapsed on Wednesday but that none of them are in danger of collapsing.
Authorities in Minnesota continue to search for survivors, following the collapse of the eight-lane interstate bridge that injured at least 79 people, trapped up to 50 motor vehicles in the Mississippi river, left at least 20 people still missing, and killed at least 4 people.
The bridge took less than 4 seconds to fall 60 feet into the river, and the water under the collapsed structure is about 7 feet deep. The river currents are pushing around blocks of pavement and twisted steel and making it very difficult for divers to search for survivors.
Investigators say they will try to determine the cause of the collapse. A 2001 study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation discovered several “fatigue problems” in the bridge and that certain areas, if cracked, could cause a collapse.
In 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory database determined that the Minnesota Bridge was structurally deficient and it received a 4 rating on a scale of 0 to 9, signifying deterioration and advanced section loss.
A school bus filled with over 50 children (ages 5 to 14) that had just finished a summer field trip was one of the many motor vehicles on the bridge when it fell. Eight of the children were hospitalized and treated for their personal injuries as a result of the bridge accident.
In Massachusetts, Governor Patrick has asked state transportation officials to look at bridge inspection records to make sure that there wasn’t anything about the conditions of the current 27 bridges to trigger alarm. In 2006, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced a plan to spend $1 billion over a five-year period to fix over 600 crumbling bridges in the state.
Massachusetts has 506 bridges that are “structurally deficient,” meaning that they received the same rating as the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. The rating means that a bridge is reaching the end of its lifespan.
After an accident as serious as a bridge collapse occurs, an investigation will have to take place to see who acted negligently or carelessly so that the accident occurred. The party or parties can be held liable by filing personal injury claims or wrongful death lawsuits against them. It is not uncommon for there to be more than one negligent party, and a good personal injury lawyer can help you file a successful injury claim.
Relatives hope, pray as river search continues, CNN.com, August 2, 2007
Patrick: 27 Mass. bridges similar in design to Minn. bridge, Boston.com, August 2, 2007
Related Web Resource:
National Bridge Inventory, U.S. Department of Transportation, IRE.org
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