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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2007, 04:59 GMT 05:59 UK
Congress to fund rebuilt bridge
Collapsed bridge - 03/08/2007
The bridge was an important link over the Mississippi river

The US Congress has voted to allocate federal funds to help rebuild a motorway bridge over the Mississippi river that collapsed on Wednesday.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have approved an initial fund of $250m (122m).

At least five people died when the bridge collapsed during evening rush hour. Eight others are still missing.

As President Bush prepares to visit the scene, searches continue for more of the victims in the fast flowing river.

About 50 vehicles were thrown into the water when large sections of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis gave way without warning.

The authorities were quick to rule out terrorism as the cause of the collapse. Attention is focusing on the bridge's state of repair.

Rescuers praised

Legislators called for more funding for transportation infrastructure as they moved to approve the aid money.

"All of us are struck, deeply within our souls" by the disaster, said Jim Oberstar, the Democratic Party chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

The $250m is to help begin rebuilding the bridge and provide transportation alternatives such as more buses while the important link over the Mississippi is replaced.

But another vote in the House of Representatives is needed on Saturday after the Senate amended the measure to switch the source for some of the money, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the White House released a statement from President George W Bush saying Americans would help the people of Minneapolis to recover and rebuild.

Experts that we rely on, technical experts and engineers, made some decisions about what needed to be done... now those decisions will have to be reviewed
Tim Pawlenty
Minnesota governor

Mr Bush is to visit the scene on Saturday, a day after wife Laura went to the disaster site and praised the rescue workers for their efforts.

The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, said there would be a review of the decision to delay some repair work on the bridge to allow it to be resurfaced.

"Experts that we rely on, technical experts and engineers, made some decisions about what needed to be done," he said.

"They thought they were making an appropriate decision for their reasons, and now those decisions will have to be reviewed."

Traffic was "bumper to bumper" at the time of the incident as only one lane was open in either direction on the eight-lane road owing to the resurfacing work.

The federal transportation department has ordered a review of all steel truss bridges similar to the one that collapsed in Minnesota - some 700 structures.

The Minneapolis bridge was 40 years old and heavily used, carrying 140,000 vehicles every day.

It was not due for replacement until 2020, said Mr Pawlenty.

In pictures: Minneapolis bridge
02 Aug 07 |  In Pictures
'Then the bridge started falling'
02 Aug 07 |  Americas
Minnesota bridge collapse: Your accounts
02 Aug 07 |  Have Your Say
Shock as Mississippi bridge falls
02 Aug 07 |  Americas
Indian bridge collapse 'kills 33'
08 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Pakistan bridge collapse kills 40
06 Aug 06 |  South Asia

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