Bureaucratic bungling by the state of Minnesota had a heavy hand in the fatal Minnesota bridge collapse last summer, according to a new report commissioned by that state's legislature. The Associated Press has the story, but it's not as exciting as the initial "blame Bush" meme the media found so convenient as the tragedy unfolded. (emphasis mine):
ST. PAUL - A new report on the Minneapolis bridge collapse said money worries may have led to bad maintenance decisions ahead of the catastrophe that killed 13 people last August.
The report, commissioned by the Legislature, also criticized the Minnesota Department of Transportation for bridge inspections that were mishandled or not acted upon over the years, even when they called for immediate repairs.
The report found that MnDOT inspectors repeatedly failed to precisely measure the deterioriation of the gusset plates, despite MnDOT guidelines that they do so. Two MnDOT inspectors who wrote inspection reports on the bridge said they'd never even seen a written copy of those guidelines.
This meant the weakened condition of the gusset plates couldn't be factored in when the bridge's weight capacity was re-rated, most recently after renovations in 1998.
"These re-ratings were based solely on the Bridge plans and did not take into account the inspection reports or other information concerning the Bridge's condition," the report said.
Supervisors who should have made sure the reports were complete did not, the report said.
As NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted last August, CNN's Jack Cafferty took to the air on CNN on August 2 last year to suggest that Iraq war funding was draining money needed for infrastructure.
The same day, "Hardball" guest host Mike Barnicle wondered if the bridge collapse was a boon to Democrats politically:
...Mike Barnicle, substitute-hosting for Chris Matthews, used the tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis to call for bigger government and wondered, "Does this help the Democrats?" All throughout tonight's show, Barnicle repeatedly pressed his guests to call for an increase in the size of government and at one point even demanded: "Government's gotta get bigger!"