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Design led to bridge collapse, NTSB says

Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 from the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Virginia, survey the wreckage of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis on August 7, 2007. MDSU-2 is assisting other federal, state, and local authorities managing disaster and recovery efforts at the site. (UPI Photo/Joshua Adam Nuzzo/U.S. Navy) .
1 of 10 | Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 from the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Virginia, survey the wreckage of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis on August 7, 2007. MDSU-2 is assisting other federal, state, and local authorities managing disaster and recovery efforts at the site. (UPI Photo/Joshua Adam Nuzzo/U.S. Navy) . | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis last year resulted from design errors, federal investigators probing the collapse said Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to issue its final report on the accident Friday after two days of public hearings, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis reported.

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"The collapse was the result of a serious design error," said Mark Bagnard, the lead NTSB investigator said.

The report said the underdesigned bridge could not survive the increasing loads over a 40-year life, resulting in the horrific evening rush-hour collapse Aug. 1, 2007, that claimed 13 lives and injured 145 people.

While corrosion did not contribute to the collapse, "it is a source of concern," said Jim Wildey, an NTSB engineer who presented a structural analysis of the bridge.

The two-day hearing in Washington came the day after lawsuits were filed against two firms hired to work on the bridge, the newspaper reported.

In lawsuits filed Wednesday, victims and their survivors of the collapse alleged the consulting firm URS didn't properly inspect and evaluate the bridge and didn't communicate the span's "dire condition" to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The suits also allege that PCI, the contractor repaving the bridge the day it collapsed, was negligent in placing hundreds of tons of construction material on the bridge and removing sections of deck.

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