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$38 million deal reached in Minn. bridge collapse

  • Story Highlights
  • Deal would expedite compensation for victims who waive right to sue the state
  • The deal, which totals $38 million, is on its way to Legislature for approval
  • Under proposed terms, victims can collect up to $400,000
  • Those with damages more than $400,000 can pull from supplemental pool
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(CNN) -- Two Minnesota state lawmakers said Friday that they have reached a deal to compensate victims of the Interstate 35 bridge collapse that killed 13 people in Minneapolis last year.

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Thirteen people were killed and dozens were injured in last year's collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

State Sen. Ron Latz and state Rep. Ryan Winkler told CNN Radio that the deal totals $38 million and will be presented to the Legislature for approval.

Latz said the deal would expedite compensation to victims who chose to take their portion of the settlement and waive their right to sue the state.

The plan addresses a key sticking point in negotiations: preserving a state liability cap on awards to individual victims, Latz said.

Winkler said victims will be able to collect up to $400,000 and people whose damages exceed $400,000 will be able to pull from a supplemental pool of more than $12 million.

"There are a 182 potential claimants out there," Winkler said. "There were 13 dead, and there were 12 catastrophic injury cases."

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he would welcome the deal for survivors and relatives if the Legislature approves it.

"I look forward to signing this legislation into law," Pawlenty said in a statement. "It provides needed relief and support for victims and family members directly impacted by the I-35W bridge tragedy. I'm pleased that Senator Latz, Representative Winkler, my office and others were able to work together to craft this legislation."

The bridge collapsed during afternoon rush hour August 1, sending dozens of cars tumbling into the Mississippi River. Photos of the scene showed cars, trucks and a school bus lingering on the bridge's uneven remnants.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating why the bridge collapsed. In January, NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said investigators studying the bridge found that 16 gusset plates, which strengthen the junctions of steel beams, were fractured.

The bad gussets were found at eight joints in the main center span.

"When one element began to fail, it's like dominoes falling down," Rosenker said.

But he emphasized, "We have not yet determined the probable cause of this accident."

The final report should be ready by the end of the year, he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About U.S. National Transportation Safety BoardI-35W Mississippi River Bridge

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