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As Bridge Recovery Continues - What Can Be Done to Prevent Future Disasters?

August 6, 2007

As investigators try to track down the cause of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, state lawmakers and others are turning to the question of how to prevent future disasters. Eliot Seide leads the union that represents many of the state's inspectors and medical workers. He says the tragedy sends a loud message.

"In America, bridges shouldn't collapse. This was Minnesota's Hurricane Katrina. Whether it's bridges or levies, people get hurt when government stops investing in infrastructure."

Seide adds that he's encouraged that Gov. Pawlenty says he'll call a special legislative session to consider increased funding for transportation, including a higher gas tax.

Seide believes the bridge collapse is further evidence of the need to invest in infrastructure and public services.

"Public services are the way we provide civilization in our society. They allow people to move, safely, from place to place. They provide education. They provide health care. They provide all the elements of a quality of life, if it's parks, libraries, that make this state and this nation great."

The Minnesota Department of Transportation puts clean-up costs at $15 million. Congress last week approved a quarter billion dollars to help rebuild the span.

Seide warns there is a costly, but important, message in this.

"What we can learn from this tragedy is that we can't put off today, what we need for tomorrow. We have to invest in critical public services that protect public safety, promote public welfare, and improve the economy of our state."

A memorial service was held Sunday evening in at St. Mark's Cathedral in downtown Minneapolis for the public, responders, and families and victims.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN