Federal investigators to examine closed St. Cloud bridge

Desoto Bridge truss
The steel truss for the Highway 23 bridge in St. Cloud, a design that's almost identical to the I-35W bridge
MnDOT photo

Federal investigators plan to come to Saint Cloud to examine the Highway 23 bridge. State officials closed the bridge last week after finding bowing in gusset plates.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants to examine the Highway 23 bridge because its design is similar to the collapsed I-35W bridge.

The NTSB has already cited gusset plates as a possible factor in the collapse. Officials are expected to take a look at the Saint Cloud bridge on Wednesday.

Bent I-35W gusset plate
This photo from June 12, 2003, shows a bent gusset plate on the I-35W bridge that is visible to the eye. Investigators suspect that the bridge's gusset plates played a role in the collapse last year.
Photo courtesy of NTSB

Minnesota Department of Transportation engineer Thomas Dumont said the detour route that diverts traffic from the bridge is busy:

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"There will be some times there will be over-capacity, that's for sure," Dumont said. "We encourage people to use alternate routes when they can. If we can get some locals to divert a little bit I think we can have a satisfactory operations on the detour route."

MnDOT estimates more than 20,000 cars travel over the Highway 23 bridge every day.

Meanwhile, MnDOT said it is in negotiations with the engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner and Associates to help determine whether the Highway 23 bridge can be repaired.

The bridge is closed indefinitely and MnDOT has said if it can't be repaired, then it will be replaced. The firm is also working with the state on the investigation of the I-35W bridge collapse.