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Oberstar: Bridge closure shows need for new regulations

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Rep. Jim Oberstar
Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

Minnesota DFL Congressman Jim Oberstar says MnDOT was right to close a bridge in St. Cloud because of safety concerns.

State transportation officials on Thursday closed the bridge that takes Highway 23 over the Mississippi River.  It has the same design as the I-35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis last year.

Underside of bridge
A view of the underside of the Desoto Bridge near downtown St. Cloud.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

But Oberstar, who chairs the House transportation committee, said on MPR's 'Midmorning' program that the closure also underscores the need for updated standards for bridge inspections and construction.

"Yes, I think the state did the right thing but it should have been in the position to do the right thing many months ago," he said.

Oberstar says he has long heard industry resistance to changing how the nation regulates the building and inspecting of bridges, but adds more inspectors are needed at both the state and federal level.

Division St. bridge closure map
Division Street bridge closure map
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation

City leaders in St. Cloud are re-routing traffic to other bridges in the city, and warning truckers that the road is closed.