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Nation in brief: Bridge closed over gusset-plate fears

Fri., March 21, 2008

A bridge over the Mississippi River northwest of the Twin Cities was shut down Thursday because of problems found in the same sort of steel plates said to have played a key role in last summer’s deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

Inspectors found slight bowing in four gusset plates, which help connect the girders of the Highway 23 bridge at St. Cloud. Transportation officials said a visual inspection showed the plates had “distorted” by about a quarter-inch.

State bridge engineer Dan Dorgan said the August collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, which killed 13 people, entered into Thursday’s decision to close the Highway 23 bridge, also known as the DeSoto Bridge.

“Our approach is very conservative, given the tragedy we experienced last year,” he said.


Libby disbarred for perjury conviction

Former top White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was banned Thursday from practicing law in the nation’s capital following his perjury conviction in the case of a CIA operative’s leaked identity.

The disbarment order of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals had been expected.

Last July, Bush commuted Libby’s 2 1/2-year sentence, sparing him from serving any prison time after being convicted of perjury and obstructing justice.

New York

Inspector charged in crane collapse

A city inspector has been charged with lying about checking on a construction crane that collapsed 11 days later, killing seven people in a dense Manhattan neighborhood.

Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned and released without bail Thursday on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.

The 20-story crane broke away Saturday from an apartment tower under construction and toppled over, killing six construction workers and a visitor in town for St. Patrick’s Day.

A complaint about the crane was logged March 4 to a city hot line, officials said, and Marquette said he inspected it. It was later determined he had not.

Los Angeles

Stolen car located 38 years later

A Los Angeles man is getting his stolen Mustang back – 38 years after it was stolen.

The vehicle has an extra 300,000 miles and a different paint job, but Eugene Brakke’s 1965 Mustang is evidently running just fine.

Brakke reported the car stolen to Burbank police in May 1970.

One month later, a Long Beach teenager named Judy Smongesky received the car as a high school graduation gift from her father, who had bought it at a Bellflower used car dealership.

Smongesky, who now lives in San Diego, said Thursday she had been driving and maintaining the car for nearly four decades, and only learned that it had been stolen when she recently prepared to sell it.


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