Interstate 35W Bridge Damaged in 2003, Photos Show

Photos taken in 2003 of the doomed Minneapolis bridge revealed warped gusset plates believed to have been a key point of failure in the 2007 collapse that killed 13 people.

"Old photos of the Interstate 35W bridge show two steel connecting plates were visibly bent as early as 2003 - four years before the span collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.

Two photos, part of a report issued earlier this month by the National Transportation Safety Board, reveal slight bends in gusset plates that hold beams together at two separate connecting points. The plates are in areas believed to be among the first points of failure when the span collapsed.

The newspaper said inspection records make no mention of repairs to the bending gusset plates.

Williams did not immediately respond to an Associated phone message seeking comment Sunday. State transportation department spokeswoman Lucy Kender also did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages.

Since the bridge's construction during the 1960s, the state highway department had increased weight on the bridge by adding a layer of concrete to the deck in 1977 and by installing concrete barriers in 1998. And the NTSB said last week that, at the time of the collapse, more than 191 tons of construction material had been piled over the bridge's weakest areas."

Full Story: 2003 Photos Reveal Warping on Bridge

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