Republican leader cool to special session; More remains found at collapse siteby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio,
Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Republican Minority Leader in the Minnesota House says he isn't sure a special session is needed to deal with the I-35W bridge collapse.
Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marsall, says he doesn't think lawmakers need to raise the state's gasoline tax to help rebuild the bridge and fix other transportation problems. He says the federal government has pledged $250 million to build the new bridge.
Seifert says he would prefer to wait until the November budget forecast before the Legislature deals with any transportation issues.
"If we end up coming in and raising the gas tax by five or six cents in September/October and then certify a surplus that is equal to that or larger, I just think the average Joe out there is going to think, 'What in the world are you guys doing?'" he said.
Gov. Pawlenty has said that he may call a special session to deal with the bridge collapse and other transportation funding issues. Pawlenty says he's open to increasing the gas tax, which Seifert says he opposes.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council unveiled a set of principles they'd like to see incorporated into the planning and building of the new I-35W bridge.
The list includes a restatement of councilmembers' wish that the bridge be designed to handle light rail and bus rapid transit.
The city would also like MnDOT to keep the public involved in the design and construction process.
Councilmember Sandy Colvin Roy, who co-authored the statement of principles, says the bridge design should also take into account the infrastructure needs of the area surrounding the bridge.
"We have had discussion about the fact that at the north end of the bridge, you will have five lanes passing over the bridge moving pretty quickly into three lanes. And that's a bottleneck and that's a concern," she said.
Councilmembers say the purpose of creating such a document is to help expedite the municipal consent process required for the bridge project.
The Council is expected to vote to approve the statement of principles when it meets on Friday.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says the search for the two people still missing from the bridge collapse will go on as long as necessary. Officials found two more victims in vehicles taken from the Mississippi River bottom Wednesday evening and early Thursday.
Rybak says the news that more bodies have been found is sad, but hopefully will help the families of the victims.
"As difficult as a moment like this is -- when we hear that news -- it is good news to be able to get people the answers they deserve," he said. "It's going to be a little bit of a time, though, before we find all of this."
One of the bodies belonged to Vera Peck, 50, of Bloomington, her former husband David Chit said. "Obviously we are in the mourning mode right now," he said. Peck had been in a car with her 20-year-old son, Richard Chit, when the bridge collapsed. His body was recovered over the weekend.
Separately, several sources said the other remains found belonged to Christine Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake. The Daughters of Penelope, a national Greek community group that counted her as a member, said in a news release that Sacorafas had been found.
The Rev. Paul Paris, pastor at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, which Sacorafas attended, also said her family had been notified that she'd been found.
"I think it's a relief for everybody that they found the body," Paris told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "At least they know. That's the big thing. They know."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Tom Scheck covers politics and government for MPR News.