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Bill to Compensate University of Minnesota

Page history last edited by Steve Escher 15 years, 2 months ago



University of Minnesota


Creative Commons License: Public Domain



University of Minnesota to be Supported by Proposed Bill


A plan to compensate the victims from the 35W bridge collapse includes a proposal that would also take care of someone else -- the University of Minnesota. Researchers authored a 2001 study of fatigue cracking that confidently stated there was no need to replace the bridge. The effort to release the university from potential legal claims has been largely overlooked as legislators have debated a proposal that would set aside as much as $40 million for the victims. House-Senate conferees are now considering whether language protecting the university, which is in the Senate version but not in a House version of the plan, should be included in the final legislation. The university's general counsel, who wanted "some comfort" that victims accepting state compensation would waive legal claims against the university.


Confident findings

Though the 2001 study did not focus on the bridge's gusset plates -- a factor that federal investigators are now investigating as a possible cause of the collapse -- it was notable for its straightforwardness in giving the bridge a clean bill of health. The study evaluated metal fatigue on the deck truss and concluded that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) "does not need to prematurely replace this bridge because of fatigue cracking, avoiding the high costs associated with such a large project."Days after the bridge collapse last summer, former state Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg said the study's findings were stated so confidently that he remembered little else regarding the bridge during his tenure. "Typically, those kinds of studies have -- you know how that stuff is written -- it has all kinds of caveats to it," he said in recalling the study this week. This one, said Tinklenberg, "seemed remarkably straightforward."


The effort to protect the university at the Capitol has not been obvious. Even in the Senate version, the University of Minnesota is never mentioned by name. When Latz's proposal passed unanimously in the Senate on March 13, the language said that any victim accepting money from the state would release the state from legal claims. "State," the proposed legislation added, "has the meaning given in Minnesota Statues, section 3.732." That statute, which is not described in the bill, includes the university along with state departments, boards, agencies and commissions.


The House proposal, which passed in late February, is more straightforward, exempting the "state and its political subdivisions," such as a city, from any legal claims. It does not specifically release the university from claims by victims. Rep. Ryan Winkler, the chief author of the House plan, said last week he is studying whether to support the language regarding the university.





Kaszuba, Mike. Bill to Compensate Bridge Victims Also Would Shelter U. April 2, 2008. Star Tribune.


Comments (1)

pierc188@... said

at 5:55 pm on Apr 20, 2008

This page appears to be good, I did change the "star tribune" in the references to a link as I assumed was intended due to its format closely matching the stereotypical web link format.

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