Pawlenty: 'Excellent to err on the side of caution'

Gov. Pawlenty
Gov. Tim Pawlenty
MPR Photo/Tom Weber

On his weekly radio show Friday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said that state officials made the right decision when they discovered a potential problem on the Highway 23 bridge in St. Cloud and then decided to close the bridge.

"It was excellent to err on the side of caution," Gov. Pawlenty said, given indications of a potential problem with the bridge.

Transportation officials closed the bridge yesterday after inspectors found slight bowing in the gusset plates that help support the bridge.

Acting State Transportation Commissioner Bob McFarlin said it is not clear when the bridge will reopen. He said it would have to be entirely replaced if it can't be repaired adequately.

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Pawlenty said on his weekly radio show that MnDOT made the right decision.

"Even though it presents an inconvenience and a challenge,it's good that MnDOT erred on the side of caution and immediately closed the bridge and is working on whether this bridge needs to be reinforced or replaced or other appropriate measures," Pawlenty said.

St. Cloud's city engineer said officials are trying to reroute traffic to the north of the bridge.

Flawed gusset plates are considered a critical factor in the I-35W bridge collapse last August.