ST. PAUL – Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble were appointed today to serve on the joint legislative committee to investigate the I-35W bridge collapse. The bi-partisan committee will review the policies and practices of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, (MnDOT) as well as decision-making at the department in response to bridge inspection reports. Additionally, both will serve on a joint House and Senate transportation committee that will overview the plan to re-build the bridge.
"Its critical we discover and understand why this bridge collapsed," said Hornstein. "We hope to learn whether warning signs were present. If we can pinpoint how and why those warning signs were missed, we can make the necessary corrections to make Minnesota bridges more safe."
The bi-partisan committee investigating the bridge collapse is comprised of eight House and Senate members. The committee will not focus directly on the physical failures of the bridge, rather the inspection records and procedures of MnDOT, particularly those completed after 1990, when the bridge was first rated structurally deficient.
"This tragedy has brought about a renewed focus on the pressures on our transportation system and brings to light a growing consensus among elected leaders and the public that investment in good infrastructure is crucial to our state’s future." said Sen. Dibble, Vice-Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. Additionally, the committee will review to what extent other bridges in Minnesota are in danger, and make recommendations to MnDOT's bridge maintenance and inspection protocols. The first hearing has not been announced, but is likely to be held sometime next week.
A joint House and Senate Transportation committee meeting to overview the plan to re-build the bridge is scheduled for tomorrow, August 15th. The plan to re-build the bridge has thus far been on a fast pace. Hornstein and Dibble hope the hearing will lead to a productive discussion on both short-term and long-term needs of the new bridge.
"The I-35W Bridge is a vital artery, and should be built in a timely fashion," said Hornstein. "This new bridge is going to last 100 years, so it is vital for us to seriously consider the long-term transportation needs of an increasingly congested traffic system." Hornstein and Dibble both favor investment in mass transit alternatives, both light rail and expanded bus lines, in order to help alleve congestion and reduce stress on our infrastructure.
The hearing will take place at the State Office Building Room 200 at 3:00 p.m.