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Sen. Coleman On Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

Hannity & Colmes

SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: Tragedy. Just incomprehensible, Sean. Absolutely incomprehensible.

You know, the first focus now is, obviously, the emergency response which will try to sort that out. I'll be flying down with my colleague, Senator Klobuchar, and Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, first thing early tomorrow morning.

Again, emergency response first. Then you've got to set up a traffic system. You've got -- this is a major, major connecting link between Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, downtown Minneapolis. It really -- kind of coming through the heart of the Twin Cities.

And then we've got to do a full forensic analysis to sort out what happened and why this happened. This was a bridge that -- I spoke to the governor earlier. He told me that it had been checked out in 2004. It is incomprehensible to see what we're seeing right now on the screen.

HANNITY: Yes, it really is, Senator. I know that the last task that I saw was back, as you point out, in 2004. A local FOX affiliate we just connected with later -- earlier, they said that the bridge, in fact, had -- they had noticed some stress -- stress fractures as recently as about a year ago. T

Now, the Department of Homeland Security says there's no indication of terrorism, so I guess the first focus of attention and how something like this could happen is going to be on the condition of the bridge structurally.

COLEMAN: Absolutely. The -- there's been a lot of reporting of construction going on. That's not unusual in the Twin Cities in summertime. And that's what we do this time of year. We fix the roads and highways, and that's a constant battle.

That was surface construction, Sean. That was pretty basic, you know, fixing surface things, so there was no indication the conversations I've had about the governor, and with others that were looking at any construction issues that would have, you know, caused this.

Clearly, something terrible has happened, something incomprehensible has happened. We need to do this full forensic analysis and figure out why, to make sure it never happens anywhere again.

HANNITY: No. I absolutely agree with you, Senator, especially as you look at the level of devastation and look at these pictures, it's shocking.

But I tell you, we keep hearing story after story, acts of heroism, and the rescue efforts have been incredible here.

Senator, what we know is this bridge was built in 1967. It had both north and southbound lanes, about 139,000 vehicles a day, last inspected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2004.

Does that, in your mind, seem like enough regularity in terms of inspection?

COLEMAN: I actually believe, first of all, again, nothing -- you've heard nothing unusual. So this is a lot of traffic in this, you know, part of the Twin Cities, not unusual. This bridge is not an old bridge, in terms of the age of bridges.

I believe it actually may be a requirement that bridges are supposed to be looked at yearly, just generally. I don't want to state that as a matter of fact, but the bottom line is that the inspection '04, I believe that it was the next serious detailed inspection would have been in 10 years. In other words, it was nothing that folks saw then that indicated there was a problem.

Obviously, somebody missed something. This is -- this is not an act of God. This -- we're looking at a lot of devastation, a lot of destruction.

And so listen, my prayers right now are with the folks on the scene, I can tell you when I talk to my wife, first thing she did, she checked to see where our kids are. And I'm sure everyone is doing that.

But ultimately, though, we have to figure out how this happened, and as I said, the Department of Transportation will be doing a full forensic investigation.

COLMES: Senator Coleman, it's Alan Colmes in New York. Thank you very much for coming on with us.

KARE-TV is reporting there are 50 cars in the river. I wonder what kind of rescue efforts and what kind of emergency services are available there for something like this?

COLEMAN: Well, one of the challenges you have is that the river is dammed. This is Minneapolis. It was the rapids. That was the flower bells (ph) were in the Minneapolis side, and they're kind of a series of dams.

And so I believe that you have access, really, from one portion of the river. I don't think you can come from the north. I think you've got to come up from the south. So you have some limited access in order to get there by river.

Obviously, the roads themselves have been cut off, but the rescue squads will have to come down, you know, on foot to get in that area.

But in terms of river access, I believe because of the damming system, you go a little north of that and -- Minneapolis was, you know, the mill city, and so you're really only going to get there, I believe, from one side, perhaps from the south side up, in order to get in the water and check out what's going on.

COLMES: ... also that your fellow Minnesotans are being asked to -- asked to donate blood. The memorial blood centers and American Red Cross have put out immediate calls for blood donors. Within an hour of collapse, the banks -- blood banks shipped extra blood supplies to Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial Hospital to help care for the injured.

So your constituents there will, I'm sure, be wanting to participate.

COLEMAN: They will respond. It's important to also note that you've got -- the destruction here impacts both the Minneapolis and the St. Paul communities, and so I would anticipate that the hospitals that are going to be impacted are Hennepin County, which is the major hospital on the Minneapolis side.

But on the other hand, on the St. Paul side, I would suspect that there's be some traffic in place, like Regents Hospital and United Hospital. There's a children's hospital in St. Paul, as there is one in Minneapolis with it, technically administratively one but separate facilities.

So I suspect that you've got activities on both sides of the river, since this cut-off here impacted both the Minneapolis side your, and though technically, the south side is St. Paul -- excuse me, it's Minneapolis, you just go a couple hundred yards and you get St. Paul.

HANNITY: Senator Norm Coleman with us on "Hannity & Colmes".

Senator, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and, of course, the rescue workers in their valiant efforts there in light of this tragedy. Senator, thank you for being with us.

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