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Tort Law (Civil Wrongs) - Transportation Law

Bridge Safety and Collapse
In light of the sudden collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge across the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota on August 1, 2007, this topic will be available in our public edition for the indefinite future, until issues concerning bridge safety have been thoroughly debated.

Resources in this category:
   Evaluation Report: State Highways and Bridges by Program Evaluation Division (February 1, 2008) (Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor)
121 pages.
   Minnesota Department of Transportation Bridge Office (Minnesota Department of Treansportation)
   Minnesota Local Road Research Board
"Established in 1959 through state legislation, the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) has sponsored more than 150 individual projects[.] LRRB research generally falls into four main categories: materials and methods used in constructing and maintaining pavement; drainage systems and other utilities under the pavement; management of the roadside environment; and bridge construction and maintenance."
   Minnesota Statutes Chapter 165: Construction, Inspection and Safety of Bridges (Minnesota Revisor of Statutes)
   Minnesota Statutes Chapter 441: Bridge Finance (Minnesota Revisor of Statutes)
   Peggy Fisher, As Trustee for the Heirs and Next of Kin of Ryan Lee Fisher, Decedent, Appellant, Vs. County of Rock, Respondent. C6-97-2263, Supreme Court, July 15, 1999. by Minnesota Supreme Court, Anderson, P., J. (July 15, 1999) (Minnesota State Law Library)
"A county is entitled to statutory immunity when its decision not to install guardrails at an existing bridge site where a fatal automobile accident occurred is based on both engineering and policy considerations."

"Because we conclude the county is entitled to statutory immunity, we do not reach Fisher's argument that failure to install approach guardrails at the bridge site falls within the maintenance exception to the statute of repose."

Ed. note: In light of the 35W bridge collapse, evidence summarized in the text of this opinion about standards for bridge replacement vs. funding of such replacement bear consideration.

   Resources on Minnesota Issues - Minneapolis Interstate 35W Bridge Collapse (Minnesota Legislative Reference Library)
"Citizens and government officials alike are concerned about the state of bridges in Minnesota after the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge into the Mississippi River on August 1st, 2007. Media accounts refer to MNDOT bridge inspection reports, Federal Highway Administration documents, and other documents that aren't always easily identifiable. This guide pulls together many of the reports being analyzed and discussed, along with general background information on bridge safety.

Librarians will be adding resources to the guide as the investigation continues and the issue unfolds."

   35W Bridge Construction Resources (Minnesota Historical Society)
Resources "that relate to the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis. These are historical documents created before or during construction."

Includes film footage, photographs, newspaper articles, and bridge plans.

   Interstate 35W Bridge Collapse (Minnesota Department of Transportation)
   Investigative Report to Joint Committee to Investigate the I-35W by Gray, Plant, Mooty (May 21, 2008) (Minnesota Legislative Reference Library)
"On an operational level relating specifically to MnDOT's responsibility for the maintenance of the I-35W Bridge, we found that:
  • MnDOT policies were not followed in critical respects
  • Decision-making responsibility was diffused and unclear
  • The flow of information was informal and incomplete
  • Expert advice was not effectively utilized
  • Financial consideration may have adversely influenced decision-making; and
  • Organizational structure did not adequately address Bridge conditions and safety.
Our findings lay a basis for corrective action by the Legislature[.]"
   Minneapolis Bridge Collapse (Minnesota Public Radio)
   Minneapolis responds to the collapse of the Interstate 35 W bridge (City of Minneapolis, Minnesota)
   U.S. Federal and Minnesota Information on I-35W Bridge (University of Minnesota Libraries)
   U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (U.S. House of Representatives)
   WisDOT to inspect 16 bridges similar to collapsed Minnesota I-35 structure (August 3, 2007) (Wisconsin Department of Transportation)
"The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) announced today it is taking steps to inspect 16 deck truss bridges in the state that are similar in design to the I-35 West bridge in Minnesota that collapsed on Wednesday."

... "On a deck truss bridge, the superstructure typically consists of two parallel trusses which are the main load-carrying members of the bridge and the roadway is placed on top of the main members. WisDOT no longer builds deck truss bridges on the state system as they have been replaced with more modern designs."


See also:
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Minnesota Engineering Expert Witnesses
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Similar resources in our Wisconsin Legal Reference Library
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