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Up Close and Personal

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters vowed Friday that money will not be an issue for rebuilding the collapsed Interstate 35W bridge in Minnesota. Speaking at a press conference, she said that the government is "at the ready to make more funds available" in addition to the $5 million already appropriated for traffic restoration efforts.

Peters said the Bush Administration was prepared to support $250 million in funding should Congress approve it. She added that the Federal Highways Administration would move to make sure that all states were fully utilizing technology–such as seismic sensors, diagnostic tools, injection of dyes to identify stress fractures–for their bridges.

She reiterated her assertion that the U.S. Inspector General would conduct a "top–to–bottom" evaluation of the current bridge inspection program standard to see if it needs to be improved. "We have improved the program ever since 1983, but something happened here that none of us suspected," she said. In 1983, the failure of a hanger–and–pin assembly on Connecticut's Mianus River Bridge led to at least biannual inspections of bridges. Those rated "structurally deficient," like the I–35W bridge, were being inspected yearly.

Peters has called on all state transportation departments to help inspect 756 bridges in the U.S. designed with steel arch trusses.