Insight News

Friday
Jul 25th

Officials, workers respond rapidly, aggressively, on behalf of bridge victims, families, and commuters

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Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman led the Minnesota Congressional delegation in securing passage of emergency assistance in the wake of the Interstate 35W bridge tragedy August 1. Their legislation authorizes $250 million for repair and rebuilding of the bridge, authorizes the project for emergency funding and waives the current cap on emergency funding dollars.

President Bush signed the bill into law, allowing Minnesota to proceed with reconstruction efforts with the promise of federal reimbursement. The bill provides $5 million to enhance public transportation services while rebuilding takes place. Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman led the Minnesota Congressional delegation in securing passage of emergency assistance in the wake of the Interstate 35W bridge tragedy August 1. Their legislation authorizes $250 million for repair and rebuilding of the bridge, authorizes the project for emergency funding and waives the current cap on emergency funding dollars. President Bush signed the bill into law, allowing Minnesota to proceed with reconstruction efforts with the promise of federal reimbursement. The bill provides $5 million to enhance public transportation services while rebuilding takes place.

Klobuchar said the action was good news for Minnesota at the close of a week that has brought so much heartbreak to the state. "Senator Coleman and I were able to impress upon our colleagues the importance and urgency of this funding. This was the most-heavily traveled bridge in the state and our people and businesses absolutely depend on it. Our whole state is concerned about completing the recovery operations from this disaster and moving forward to build a new bridge," she said.

"As we mourn those who were lost to this horrible catastrophe, it is imperative that we determine how this happened to spare other cities from such tragedy," said Coleman. "At the same time, we must take immediate steps to rebuild this important artery in the heart of the Mill City. By authorizing the reconstruction of the bridge, authorizing the project for emergency relief funding, and providing transit assistance to ease congestion in the interim, we can begin this long but necessary process. We are going to rebuild this bridge as a community and we are going to rebuild it quickly."

On Thursday, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced a $5 million grant to begin the rebuilding process. Senators Klobuchar and Coleman joined Secretary Peters in a tour of the site and visited the area again Saturday, August 3 with First Lady Laura Bush and Sunday, August 4 with President George Bush.

Third Ward Minneapolis City Council Member, Dianne Hofstede said, "Our thoughts go out to all of the families and individuals who were impacted by this tragic accident. Also, we think of the many emergency response personnel who came to the aid of many and who continue to engage in the recovery efforts. A city like ours cannot function without the care and compassion of such personnel. There are many heroes. One of them is Shannon Hansen, the Minneapolis Fire Department Captain and Third Ward resident who many of you saw on the news risking her life to do rescue work in the waters."

Hofstede said, "Locally I will be working with our state representatives, the Mayor, fellow council members, city staff, the University, the Met Council, Metro Transit and other officials on a plan to ensure a smooth transition as we move forward. Of particular concern is the re-routing of the traffic, which used the I-35 W Bridge for traffic routes both north and south. Another major concern has been that of the debris in the river."

Hofstede said public officials are discussing the impact of the I-35W Bridge on the surrounding neighborhoods. A request was made for more ongoing communication with the neighborhoods. "We are working with Metro Transit and the Met Council to order more buses and gather as many as possible from a variety of resources, looking at instituting more Park and Ride lots and other methods of encouraging the use of buses and alternative modes of transportation," she said.

Eliot Seide, Director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5 said AFSCME members were on the bridge when it collapsed. He said one inspector was injured and hospitalized for surgery.

"AFSCME members are some of the everyday heroes who b
 

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