August 4th, 2007
11:59 AM ET
12 years ago

Bush visits site of bridge collapse

President Bush surveyed the site of the bridge collapse in Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS (CNN) - President Bush surveyed huge chunks of debris and twisted metal Saturday that were left by this week's bridge collapse in Minneapolis, and pledged the federal government would "eliminate roadblocks" and "cut through paperwork" to get it rebuilt.

"I bring prayers from the American people to those who have suffered loss of life as a result of the collapse of the 35W bridge in the Twin Cities. I bring prayers to those who wonder whether they'll ever see a loved one again," Bush said.

"I have met with the chief of police and the sheriff and rescue workers –people who represent men and women working as hard as they possibly can to save life and to find life - to go under these murky waters to find the facts. And it's going to take awhile.

"I have been impressed not only by their determination but by their compassion," the president added.

"We want to get this bridge rebuilt as quick as possible. We understand that this is a main artery," Bush said. "People depend on this bridge, on this highway."

Bush was accompanied to Minnesota by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters - who pledged that she would do what she could to meet the needs of the city.

On Friday, the chief federal investigators said the south end of the bridge "behaved differently" from the rest of the structure during its catastrophic collapse.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said that based on a video of the collapse and where the bridge debris currently lies, the southern end apparently "shifted 50 feet to the east."

"And when we compare that to what we've seen in the rest of the bridge, the rest of the bridge appears to have collapsed in place," Rosenker told reporters.

However, Rosenker cautioned that investigators' interest in the southern end does not mean they have found the answer the bridge's collapse.

"What we have is a step forward," he said.

"We believe that as the bridge began to fall, as it began to collapse, it shifted," Rosenker said. "I am not saying that the 50-foot shift created the fall. That is not what we believe. What we believe is whatever created the failure, we also saw a 50-foot shift in the southern end of the structure."

Rosenker would not offer any theories on what caused the collapse, saying that would come after the 19 investigators have completed their analysis.

The 1,907-foot bridge came down Wednesday in a cloud of dust and a spray of river water during the evening rush hour.

Divers searched the river throughout the day Friday, locating 12 submerged or partially submerged vehicles, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said. While no bodies were found, two of the vehicles were so badly crushed that divers could not check inside.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office Friday identified a fifth victim as Paul Eickstadt, 51, of Mounds View, Minn., who was the driver of the tractor-trailer that was ablaze in the immediate aftermath of the collapse. The other four victims have been previously identified.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. James Stewart, Lexington, Ky.

    If the President's responses and actions are like those in New Orleans after Katrina, then I feel VERY sorry for the people in Minneapolis. They had best grown fins and gills.
    The US government has neither the means or the will to attend to our infrastructure.

    August 4, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Scott Brown Palm Bay Florida

    James does very thing have to be related to Katrina and Iraqi? Expand your mind and be an american. History will prove the Mr. Bush is doing the right thing when a Democrat is elected.

    August 4, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. William Lammott St. Albans, Vermont

    I find it pretty damn pathetic that this country has to have a tragedy such as this bridge collapsing or TWA FLT 800 in order to do something to prevent it in the first place. They stated they knew the bridge was weakened and in need of repair but failed to do anything about it and TWA disaster was supposedly caused by faulty wiring which sparked the center fuel tank and they knew these wires were old and brittle. What has to happen next before this corrupt government steps in?

    August 4, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. Kerry Apple Valley MN

    We should stop wasting tens of billions of dollars in Iraq each month and take care of our own business. Bush and his crony buddies in Congress should learn a lesson from this. STOP the earmarking and pork barrel, useless projects and do your jobs for the American people or we will vote you out of office.

    August 4, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Tom Quincy, Mass

    I guarantee the majority of people from Minnesota will not still be doing nothing 2 plus years after this disaster to better themselves either.

    August 4, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Mrs. America

    Bush will do something so he doesn't look bad again, especially with all those influencial white folks living in Minneapolis. A far cry from New Orleans.

    However, nothing he does will ever remove the image of New Orleans and the reality of his incompetent administration. New Orleans is part of his legacy and Iraq is the other. Nothing he does for Minneapolis will change that.

    August 4, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. Ron Nebraska

    Why are we so lucky that we have a President who even goes to a disaster site and looks and sounds like a complete moron?

    August 4, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  8. HAWK, TX.

    well another photo op for the shrub. want to bet he will have forgot all about it after this weekend. rember katrina,

    August 4, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  9. kathie, spring TX

    I agree. Just another damn photo op for this idiot. He doesn't give a damn about the people in Minn. or the rest of the country. He forgot where he was the minute he stepped back on the plane.

    August 4, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  10. teh pwner

    Why do you liberals insist on criticizing EVERY action the man makes? How can you object to a simple visit to Minneapolis?

    August 5, 2007 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  11. Bill, Indy, IN

    You people make me sick! Had he not gone to Minneapolis, you would have been critizing him for that.

    August 5, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Another photo opp Bush could not pass up before going on a month long vacation. The troops don't get a vacation, and what has Bush done to earn the time off?

    If Washington and the White House would spend the same tax dollars fixing our roads, bridges, power grid and sewer system as they do throwing money away in Iraq, maybe tragic events like this would not happen in the future.

    God bless the injured, dead and their famalies.

    Impeach Bush and the rest of the Washington Fools!!!!!

    August 5, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. Ed Huddleston Fort Worth Tx

    I object to this latest photo op because of the taxpayer money spent for nothing. The day before, the same happened with Laura Bush. G.W Bush will do nothing to try to alleviate the problems in Minneapolis just as he did nothing in New Orleans. Laura is not authorized to do anything even if she knew how. Can no one recognize a couple of 'dunces' when they see them?

    August 5, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    Why do we criticize every move he makes? Because he has consistently proven he cannot be trusted. With anything. He and his followers are destroying this country in ways that will ripple across decades.

    And no, I would not even trust him to clean my cat's litter box.

    The scrutiny will continue. It must continue until he is gone, and we need to consider legal action even then.

    August 5, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. lipper AMERICAN

    By the way teh.....I am not a liberal, simply a free thinking American who knows the difference between right and wrong and competence and incompetence.

    August 5, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  16. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    “I bring prayers from the American people to those who have suffered loss of life as a result of the collapse of the 35W bridge in the Twin Cities. I bring prayers to those who wonder whether they’ll ever see a loved one again,”

    The same speech he gave after 911, after reported casulites New Orleans. H
    And ALL he's given New Orleans is Prayers!

    August 6, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  17. Ali A. Akbar, Fort Worth, Texas

    Bush has fulfilled his Domestic obligations as President. There has not been a President to push harder for real policy in years. Not in my life time anyway.

    August 6, 2007 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  18. DP, Minneapolis, MN

    I would have rather that that our mockery of a leader stayed in Washington and focused more on running a country rather than a mere photo op. His presence in Minneapolis does nothing to ease the concerns of the residents of Minneapolis. In fact, we would have been more impressed had he spent that time pushing for improvements in our nation's infrastructure. Oh wait, we can't do that without money. And we don't have any.

    August 6, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. R Pyle, Roxboro, NC

    Congrats to Jeff from Housrton. I agree that one had better not turn his head to spit while Bush holds the reins. And,, as "justice" is applied to me and mine,, so should the criminality of Bush / Cheney be explored and prosecuted well after hew leaves office.

    August 6, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Donald Springfield, IL

    Bush should have been in Minnesota, the way he should have been in New Orleans, in Gulfport and the surrounding areas, instead of turning a cold shoulder to people's suffering. However, a photo op and his usual crappy speech doesn't discount that this administration's Iraq pork barrel project is the main focus at all times: bridge repairs and U.S. citizens be damned. Federal and state will be arguing over who should pay to fix it.

    August 6, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |