Minnesota Dept. of Transportation on Aug. 23 released its request for proposals for the rebuilt I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River, offering up to $27 million in early-completion incentives for the winning design-builder.

The original bridge collapsed on Aug. 1, killing 13.

Teams will have until Sept. 10 to submit proposals. MNDOT plans to open them on Sept. 14 and award the contract by the end of next month. Work is to begin no later than Oct. 15.

The state agency says it will also solicit public comments and consult with bidders as they draw up plans.

The super fast-tracked project to replace the collapse artery is unlike any the state has attempted before, according to MNDOT engineers. The bridge is expected to open in late 2008.

Five teams are qualified to bid on the project. The contract documents allow for the use of concrete or steel superstructures.

MNDOT also is offering up to $500,000 in ancillary incentives for safety, public relations and quality programs. The builder will be required to provide a two-year warranty.

As for disincentives, the contract calls for $200,000 per day in liquidated damages, which increases by $5,000 per day after 180 days of the project's substantial completion deadline.

Meanwhile, MNDOT closed a 1,000-ft-long truss bridge over the Red River in Drayton after a statewide sweep found a fatigue crack in the shelf support of a five-girder approach span.

"We're going to add an additional beam" in the 60-ft-long span, says Dan Dorgan, state bridge engineer. Workers will also bolster the support shelf and drill out the crack.

"It's a matter of days" before the bridge re-opens, Dorgan adds.

Previous inspections found no problems with the bridge; however, it was due to be replaced in 2009.