The collapse of a major interstate highway bridge near downtown Minneapolis will have a big impact on businesses, local officials said.

Todd Klingel, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, described the bridge in local media reports as a "vital conduit of commerce" linking the city's downtown core with its northeast suburbs. More than 140,000 vehicles crossed the bridge on a daily basis. Klingel said his immediate concern was with the victims, however.

Officials have already confirmed four deaths and more than 60 people injured in the collapse, which occurred at the peak of rush-hour traffic Wednesday night. At least 20 people remain missing.

President Bush has pledged swift action to rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible. In the meantime, federal highway and transportation officials announced a $5 million grant to help divert traffic around the site. The Minneapolis Department of Transportation has already begun rerouting traffic to nearby Highway 280, which has been temporarily converted to a freeway without traffic signals. 

City officials on Thursday said emergency response efforts had shifted into the recovery phase, as divers began checking for more victims in roughly 50 vehicles still submerged in the Mississippi River.

The cause of the collapse has not been determined.

Published on: Aug 2, 2007