Governor Pawlenty declared a peacetime emergency and ordered all state bridges inspected.
Pawlenty signed an emergency executive order activating the State Emergency Operations Center, and instructed all state agencies to help local, state and federal agencies respond to the Interstate 35W Bridge collapse.
The governor ordered an immediate inspection Thursday of all Minnesota bridges that have a design like the one that collapsed Wednesday in Minneapolis. Pawlenty said he did not know how many bridges have that design.
Former Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg said the collapse is indicative of the years of neglect to infrastructure both in Minnesota and the U.S.
The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of repairs when it buckled during the evening rush hour. Dozens of cars plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River, killing at least four people and injuring 79.
"We have one of the better or best bridge inspection programs in the country. ... However, that's little consolation when you have a horrific tragedy like this event," Pawlenty said. "The first thing we're going to do is make sure that we immediately inspect and check all bridges of this design and that fall into this category on the assessment scale."
A 2005 inspection rated the bridge 50 on a scale of 100 for structural stability, White House press secretary Tony Snow said Thursday.
Pawlenty issued his order as divers searched the Mississippi River for more bodies entombed in cars submerged in seven feet of water and trapped beneath twisted steel and the concrete slabs of the collapsed bridge.
By Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press Writers