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NTSB names poor gusset plate design as a cause of 35W bridge collapse

The National Transportation Safety Board began its public hearing Thursday to determine what lead to the collapse of the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis that killed 13 people and injured 145.

The board said the hearings were "to see that such a tragedy never, ever happens again," according to the Star Tribune.

The bridge collapsed during rush hour on August 1, 2007 and was the nations deadliest bridge collapse in 30 years, according to the Pioneer Press. More than 100 cars were on the bridge at the time.

The two-day hearings began one day after lawsuits were filed against two private firms who were hired to work on the bridge, according to the Star Tribune.

Following acting NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker's remarks, the NTSB's Mark Bagnard said in the presence of a Star Tribune reporter that fellow federal safety investigators say that design flaws in the steel gusset plates connecting the Mississippi River bridge's beams were a factor in the collapse.

"Much of what we will (talk) about in this investigation will focus on the U10 gusset plates," said Mark Bagnard, investigator in charge for the NTSB's Office of Highway Safety in the presence of a Pioneer Press reporter.

Some family members affected by the collapse attended the NTSB hearings, and members of the NTSB addressed them as the hearing got underway.

"This bridge collapse was tragic for many of you, but it was humbling for all of us," Board member Debbie Hersman said in the presence of a Pioneer Press reporter. "I hope (today) will provide some of the answers to the questions that a lot of you had about our investigation."