Oberstar presses for I-35W hearing

April 24, 2008

The National Transportation Safety Board recently voted not to hold a public hearing on the I-35W bridge collapse. The decision is not sitting well with House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Oberstar, and he turned on NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker during a recent aviation reauthorization hearing.

Rosenker has said he would like to wait until the NTSB has completed a full report on the collapse before opening the doors to the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently voted not to hold a public hearing on the I-35W bridge collapse. The decision is not sitting well with House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Oberstar, and he turned on NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker during a recent aviation reauthorization hearing.

Rosenker has said he would like to wait until the NTSB has completed a full report on the collapse before opening the doors to the investigation.

Holding public hearings now, he argued, would add more time to the process and keep what could be vital information from state transportation officials. NTSB investigators expect to complete a finite-element computer simulation analysis of the accident in the next 45 to 60 days.

“We will get a public hearing like nothing we’ve done before when the investigation is complete,” Rosenker promised at the reauthorization hearing. “There will be a peer review ad nauseum, and we’ll have it done before this year is over.”

The NTSB has refused public hearings just six times in its 33-year history.

Oberstar suggested that the NTSB’s opposition to the I-35W forum was either a sign of understaffing or a “condescending attitude” toward other specialists who might bring forward new information that investigators have not considered.

“In the Minnesota area, there is a huge skepticism of the objectivity of this board,” Oberstar said. “And I’m not asking you, I’m telling you, a public hearing would go a long way to dispel the questions that have been raised and the lack of trust in the board’s actions.”