Editorial: Lessons to be learned in I-35W collapse
The Interstate 35W bridge collapse followed a 17-year period of decision struggles due to budget shortages, lack of command clarity and missed opportunities to detect problems in the bridge structure, according to a legislative report issued Wedn...
The Interstate 35W bridge collapse followed a 17-year period of decision struggles due to budget shortages, lack of command clarity and missed opportunities to detect problems in the bridge structure, according to a legislative report issued Wednesday.
This legislative study criticized the Minnesota Department of Transportation for failing to improve the I-35W bridge prior to the crash.
MnDOT was criticized on several issues -- inadequate inspections, budget limits impacting decisions and disregard for department policies that may have contributed to poor maintenance decisions leading up to the fatal bridge collapse.
The report said the Legislature also needs to put a higher funding priority on repairing or replacing bridges in poor condition. The report recommended the Legislature develop an emergency funding system to address bridge rehabilitations or replacements.
Overall, this report does not lay sole blame on MnDOT. This agency is full of professional people striving to do their best every day within political and budget challenges.
The report also was critical of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's decision to allow Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau to serve as MnDOT commissioner. Previous MnDOT commissioners call the move "inappropriate." The Legislature rejected Molnau's second appointment during the 2008 session.
The next major report on the bridge tragedy will come from the National Transportation Safety Board which will determine the specific cause of the bridge collapse.
The real essence of the legislative report is that the state -- across Democrat, Independent and Republican administrations -- has failed to adequately manage and fund bridge maintenance and replacement in this state.
The truth is Minnesota has been failing to invest in its critical infrastructure for nearly two decades. Hopefully, this state can learn a lesson from this tragedy.