Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Responds to Minnesota Bridge Tragedy

Press Release Date:  Thursday, August 02, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Mark Brown

Governor reassures Kentuckians that ‘our bridges are safe’

FRANKFORT Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher is asking Kentuckians to remember the victims of Wednesday’s tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota and is reassuring the public that Kentucky’s bridges are safe.

“This is a time of great sorrow for the people of Minnesota,” said Governor Fletcher.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who were involved in this tragedy.  Clearly, such a tragedy calls on us to be sure Kentucky’s bridges are safe.” 

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet employs a rigorous bridge inspection program to ensure public safety and regularly inspect our bridges from top to bottom.  Governor Fletcher has directed the Cabinet to scrutinize inspection report data to determine if any additional inspections or safety precautions should be implemented following last night’s Minneapolis tragedy.  Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert said that Kentucky’s inspectors are trained and qualified by the highest federal standards.

“Our inspectors meet all federal requirements and follow the best practice procedures for all inspections to ensure we gather accurate and timely information about the structural integrity of each bridge,” said Nighbert.  “When concerns arise about a particular bridge, it will undergo greater scrutiny, maintenance, and if needed – complete closure.”

The Governor, who earned an engineering degree as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky, said the collapse underscores the potential vulnerability of aging transportation infrastructure and the importance of thorough inspection and maintenance programs.

“I have full confidence in Secretary Nighbert and the team of professionals at the Transportation Cabinet.  The state oversees the meticulous inspection of all of the approximately 14,000 bridges throughout the commonwealth to ensure constant safety for the public,” continued Governor Fletcher. 

Marc D. Williams, commissioner of the Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways added that it will be important for engineers and industry experts to determine exactly what caused the Minnesota collapse.

“When conclusive information about the cause of the collapse is released, transportation experts nationwide will be able to determine whether any review or changes with regard to industry standards are necessary,” Williams said.  “Certainly, before all the evidence is collected and analyzed, we cannot speculate on what might have caused this devastating event, but as soon as more information is known on the cause of the collapse in Minnesota we will address any additional measures needed for our bridges in Kentucky.”