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Transportation Finance Division

FIRST MEETING - JOINT HOUSE/SENATE BRIDGE COLLAPSE INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE

2007-2008 Regular Session - October 03, 2007

STATE OF MINNESOTA FIRST MEETING
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES EIGHTY-FIFTH SESSION

JOINT HOUSE/SENATE BRIDGE COLLAPSE INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE

MINUTES


Senator Steve Murphy, Co-Chair of the Committee, called the meeting to order at 11:15 A.M. on Wednesday, October 3, 2007, in Room 200 of the State Office Building.

The Committee Legislative Assistant noted the roll.

House Members present:
Lieder, Co-Chair
Erhardt
Hornstein
Hortman
Madore
Morrow
Peterson, N.


House Members excused:
Severson

Senate Members present:
Murphy, Co-Chair Langseth
Dibble Saltzman
Fischbach

Senate Members excused:
Jungbauer
Koch



A quorum was present. Co-Chairman Murphy asked that each member and staff introduce themselves. Co-Chairman Lieder read the following charge of the committee:

The Senate and House of Representatives, in accordance with the rules of each body, will appoint a joint committee to investigate the collapse of the I-35W bridge. The Committee will consist of eight members of the Senate appointed by the Subcommittee on Committees and eight members of the House appointed by the Speaker. The Committee will have Senate and House co-chairs selected by the appointing authority.

The Committee will do a comprehensive review of all decisions potentially relevant to the bridge collapse, within the context of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's (MnDOT) general practices relating to bridge inspection and repair. The Committee will examine the extent to which the decisions that permitted the I-35W bridge to deteriorate to the point of collapse were similar to those made regarding other bridges, the extent to which other bridges are in peril, and how the bridge maintenance and replacement program must be changed to ensure that no more bridges fall down.

The Committee is charged with examining MnDOT's decision making in response to bridge inspection reports done over the last 40 years, especially those done since 1990.

The Committee will conduct its review and make its recommendations to the legislature using an open and public process that provided Minnesotans with assurance that any past practices and policies that have been identified as contributing to the tragedy have been corrected.

The Committee will also examine MnDOT's response in the aftermath of the disaster and whether the agency is adequately staffed and funded to inspect, maintain, repair and replace highway bridges.

The Committee is not intended to duplicate the efforts of the National Transportation Safety Board to identify the physical failures of this particular bridge that caused it to collapse.

Joint House and Senate Bridge Collapse Investigation Committee
Page 2
October 3, 2007




Jim Nobles, Auditor, State Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) addressed the committee with an outline of their role in evaluating/follow-up on MnDOT's response to findings/recommendations in the 1997 report titled Highway Spending as well as their intent to examine aspects of MnDOT's bridge-related decision making. Specifically, they will examine the data, standards and criteria MnDOT used over the past ten years to allocate resources to bridge maintenance, repair and replacement. In that context, they will examine decisions about the I-35W bridge that collapsed. Debra Parker Junod, Program Evaluation Division, OLA, also addressed the committee. Both Mr. Nobles and Ms. Parker Junod answered Committee member's questions.

Dan Dorgan, MnDOT State Bridge Engineer and Todd Nieman, MnDOT Bridge Inspection Engineer, addressed the Committee. They answered member's questions regarding state bridge inspectors qualifications and practices.

Senator Dibble made the following motion: To request House and Senate leadership compose a working group from members of this committee. It would be composed of the Chairs of this committee, members of the minority party and leadership themselves and hire outside professional assistance, authorize funding if needed and establish regular reporting and accountability plan with a time line and work plan reporting back to this committee. THE MOTION PREVAILED.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:22 P.M.



Rep. Bernie Lieder, Co-CHAIR
More Info On This Meeting..

Understanding bridge engineering; legislative auditor presentation