Administration, Democrats Clash on Bridge Repairs

The Minneapolis skyline rises in the distance, Tuesday, July 22, 2008 in this view of the new Interstate 35W bridge which replaces the old bridge which collapsed into the Mississippi River, Aug. 1,2007, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration and Senate Democrats are at odds over whether the nation's bridges are in a state of disrepair severe enough to be called a safety crisis.

Federal Highway Administrator Thomas Madison Junior says, "We don't believe there is a crisis with regard to bridge safety in America.''

Speaking before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today, Madison said "the condition of bridges is improving.'' He added that even though a bridge is determined to be "structurally deficient'' that doesn't mean it's unsafe or in imminent danger of collapse.

But Senator Barbara Boxer, who chairs the committee, says it "defies common sense'' to believe that bridges judged structurally deficient are safe.
A little over a year ago, the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 and bringing national attention to the issue of bridge safety.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)