The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation delivered an official design sketch of a new Interstate-35W bridge to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback (D) on Aug. 21, allowing state and local authorities to begin defining project parameters for the five teams vying to design and build it.
Names of design firms teamed with shortlisted contractors have emerged. Parsons Brinckerhoff and DMJM Harris are on the Walsh Construction-American Bridge team, and Parsons Corp. has teamed with the Kiewit/Traylor Brothers/Massman group, spokespersons say. Jacobs Engineering Group is lead design firm with C.S, McCrossan Inc.
The new bridge would be 1,900 ft long, seven feet shorter than the old one, and 189 ft wide with ten 12-ft-wide lanes, plus shoulders. The old bridge, which collapsed Aug. 1, was 113 ft. wide, with eight lanes plus shoulders. The new bridge's alignment "generally" would follow the old one's, says Khani Sahebjam, MNDOT metro district engineer.
Ryback says the city wants light rail on the bridge. Lt. Gov. and MNDOT Commissioner Carol Molnau said Aug. 10 that including light rail "simply cannot be justified," would add "at least six weeks" to design and "trigger new air quality and other environmental reviews."
After a new review brought on by political pressure, MNDOT engineers found it feasible to strengthen the bridge for light rail without including it in the current build-out. The design also opens the possibility for bus rapid-transit and commuter lanes, says Sahebjam.
State officials have not released an estimated cost to make the bridge ready for light rail, but the city says it will be about $20 million. "It seems likely that the feds will not reimburse the full cost," says Jeremy Hanson, mayoral spokesman. But he adds, "If the bridge is expected to have a life span of 100 years, then it ought to have the capacity for transit, including LRT."
Meanwhile, divers on Aug. 20 pulled the last remaining missing person from the collapse site and identified the victim as Gregory Jolstad, 45. The construction worker was operating a skid-steer loader when the bridge fell.