Posted at 10:02 AM on January 15, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The National Transportation Safety Board will give an update on its findings into why the 35W bridge collapsed later today. The Pi Press, The New York Times and the Washington Post say the report will blame a design flaw, specifically gusset plates. The New York Times story quotes an investigator saying it couldn't have been found through inspections. Has MnDOT been vindicated?
USA Today says A two-year study being released Tuesday by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission is proposing a federal gas tax increase of up to forty cents a gallon over the next five years to help repair the nation's infrastructure.
The Star Tribune is also reporting that the Hasting bridge needs immediate repairs.
DFLers criticize his plan.
The Pi Press also picks up the Pawlenty's comments that the dispute over the Central Corridor must end.
Speaking of possible unemployment, there are reports that Delta Airlines is talking with Northwest Airlines about a possible merger. MPR wonders how a merger will impact the economy. A whole bunch of Minnesota politicos are expressing concern over the merger talks.
GOP Rep. Dennis Ozment is going to retire. He wrote a letter to his local paper. GOP House Minority Leader Marty Seifert says Ozment's seat heavily indexes GOP. Seifert also says he doesn't think this will be the last retirement this year.
GOP Sen. Norm Coleman posts a moderate voting record in 2007.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar backs an energy tax credit.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison says he'll pursue a Peace Department after his trip to Norway
Forum Communications says a veto of the Farm Bill is certain unless changes are made. DFL Rep. Collin Peterson is mentioned.
DFL U.S. Senate candidate Jim Cohen was on MPR's Midday yesterday.
GOP Sen. Norm Coleman will be in Florida on Friday speaking before the Republican Jewish Coalition.
The Duluth News Tribune says Duluth's mayor Don Ness is backing Barack Obama for president.
The AP says the average convention goer will spend $1600 during their visit.
Posted at 12:08 PM on January 15, 2008
by Tom Scheck
The Star Tribune reported it first. AP picked it up:
ST. PAUL (AP) - The latest unemployment figures have prompted the state's economist say that Minnesota is now in a recession. Minnesota's unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in December, up from 4.4 percent in November. The state has lost 23,000 jobs over the past six months. It's the worst series of jobs numbers since the 2001 national economic downturn. State economist Tom Stinson tells the Star Tribune the numbers mean the state is in a recession, and he can't label it anything else. Stinson says that in more normal times the state would add about 23,000 jobs over a year. Instead the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says the state lost 700 jobs from this time last year.
Posted at 1:21 PM on January 15, 2008
by Tom Scheck
The NTSB just finished its briefing on the investigation into the I-35W bridge collapse. MPR and AP have stories. Basically, the NTSB says it was a design flaw in the bridge's gusset plates. Here's part of the NTSB release:
************************************************************ NTSB URGES BRIDGE OWNERS TO PERFORM LOAD CAPACITY CALCULATIONS BEFORE MODIFICATIONS; I-35W INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board today issued a safety recommendation that addresses a design issue with the I-35W bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi river on August 1, 2007. In this accident, approximately 1,000 feet of the deck truss fell into the river, and as a result, 13 people died and 145 people were injured.
The recommendation is made to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and states: "for all non-load-path- redundant steel truss bridges within the National Bridge Inventory, require that bridge owners conduct load capacity calculations to verify that the stress levels on all structural elements, including gusset plates, remain within applicable design requirements, whenever planned modifications or operational changes may significantly increase stresses."
"Although the Board's investigation is still on-going and no determination of probable cause has been reached, interim findings in the investigation have revealed a safety issue that warrants attention," said NTSB Chairman Mark V.
Rosenker. "During the wreckage recovery, investigators discovered that gusset plates at eight different joint locations in the main center span were fractured. The Board, with assistance from the FHWA, conducted a thorough review of the design of the bridge, with an emphasis on the design of the gusset plates. This review discovered that the original design process of the I-35W bridge led to a serious error in sizing some of the gusset plates in the main
Undersized gusset plates were found at 8 of the 112 nodes
(joints) on the main trusses of the bridge. These 16 gusset plates (2 at each node) were roughly half the thickness required and too thin to provide the margin of safety
expected in a properly designed bridge.
The Safety Board emphasizes that there is no evidence to suggest that the deficiencies in the various design review procedures associated with this bridge are widespread or even go beyond this particular bridge. In fact, this is the only bridge failure of this type of which the Safety Board is aware.
"The Safety Board has issued this recommendation, at this time, to ensure that the original design calculations for other bridges of this type have been made correctly, before any planned modification or operational changes are accomplished affecting such bridges and before any
additional stresses are placed on them," Rosenker said.
The probable cause of this accident will be determined when the final report is presented to the Board, currently estimated to be sometime before the end of the year.
The recommendation letter can be found on the Board's website at http://www.ntsb.gov/Recs/letters/2008/H08_1.pdf.