Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bridge collapse to affect GOP planning

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The tragic collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis will affect planning for the 2008 GOP convention:

While the 2008 Republican convention is about 13 months off, this major disruption to the Twin Cities’ transportation network appears a serious problem for GOP and local logistical planners.

Some 17,000 hotel rooms have been blocked for the 2008 Republican National Convention, according to Meet Minneapolis, the city’s official visitor’s association. Of those rooms, 1,500 could be affected by the bridge collapse, said Meet Minneapolis spokeswoman Connie Stetler on Thursday, though she said the route to the airport located south of the cities would not be affected by the accident.

Democratic state Rep. Joe Mullery, whose district is northwest of the bridge, said the accident will shift 140,000 to 180,000 cars a day to other Twin Cities thoroughfares, creating the potential for major traffic disruptions. “Instead it will go on to my district, going north, a very large percent, half or slightly more of the traffic, could be shifted on that road through my district,” Mullery said. “There are no safety concerns, but it will just become another parking lot, practically.”

It's also more directly affecting the RNC summer meeting being held in Minneapolis this weekend:
The Republican National Committee says it plans to go ahead with its summer meeting in Minneapolis over the next few days although with a revised schedule. Earlier today, Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the R.N.C., said the schedule was “in flux” after yesterday’s highway bridge collapse. Republican officials are gathering in the city to take care of party business and gear up for next year’s Republican National Convention, which will be held in the Twin Cities next September.

“We are in nimble mode,” Ms. Schmitt said. “The mood has shifted to one of empathy and concern.”

First Lady Laura Bush was scheduled to speak at the meeting for 20 minutes tomorrow afternoon. Today her press office said that she would now be dropping by the event for a shorter time and her remarks will not be public. Mrs. Bush is making room in her schedule to visit the Interstate 35W bridge collapse overlook and to meet with volunteers and first responders in the morning.
One wonders if the convention might be used to create a deadline to get the bridge rebuilt on a quicker schedule. Brian Williams hinted at this on his broadcast this evening.