Federal engineers rated the Minneapolis bridge that plunged into the Mississippi as "structurally deficient" as far back as 1990 and as recently as 2005, citing significant corrosion in its bearings. But state officials opted for patchwork repairs and more inspections rather than a complete overhaul. "We thought we had done all we could," said an engineer. "Obviously, something went terribly wrong."
In 2005 federal inspectors gave the bridge—the busiest in Minnesota—a paltry score of 50 out of 100 for structural stability. Officials have warned states to examine some 750 other bridges in the nation with similar designs. Minnesota authorities, meanwhile, continued yesterday to hunt for bodies in the tragedy that claimed four lives and injured 79.