Work begins on new I-35W bridge

On the first day of construction for the new 35W bridge, an eight-foot auger began drilling what will be a 120-foot test shaft on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
Photo by Labor Review

Construction began Thursday on a new Interstate 35W bridge, three months to the day since the sudden collapse of the old bridge Aug. 1.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and from the bridge contractor, Flatiron Manson, took a group of about 20 members of the news media to the site for photos and interviews.

"We'll be working 20 hours a day, six days a week," said Peter Sanderson, project manager for Flatiron Manson. That's two 10-hour shifts a day, he explained. About 40 workers were on-site Thursday, Sanderson said, while the workforce will grow to a peak of about 600 by April. Peak employment at the site, he said, would last "several months."

Sanderson said all the workers at the site would be hired locally from Minneapolis Building Trades unions.

Flatiron Manson and the Minneapolis Building Trades Council have been in discussions to reach a Project Labor Agreement for the project, an agreement that would provide certain guarantees to the unions in exchange for a no-strike pledge. "We're still negotiating," Sanderson told reporters on the tour.

Flatiron Manson's $234 million contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) specifies that the bridge will be completed by Dec. 24, 2008. "We're determined to get it completed, particularly in a safe manner, and have it open on time," Sanderson said.

"It's important to get this bridge back in service," said Jon Chiglo, project manager for reconstruction for MnDOT.

"A bridge of this complexity normally would take two to three years to build," Sanderson said. He emphasized that safety "won't be sacrificed one iota."

Speaking with a reporter from the Minneapolis Labor Review, published by the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council, Sanderson said: "We look forward to working with your members here. Everyone tells me they're skilled and good to work with."

On the first day of construction for the new bridge, workers began drilling a 120-foot test shaft on the east bank of the Mississippi River. The shaft will be filled with concrete and then tested and evaluated before work proceeds on the 32 shafts that will be drilled into the riverbank for piers to support the new 35W bridge.

Steve Share edits the Minneapolis Labor Review, the official publication of the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council. Visit the CLUC website, www.minneapolisunions.org

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    I-35 W bridge

    I have lived in Minnesota all my life and have never seen something more tragic happen in this state then what had happened on that August day on I-35W. The I-35W bridge collapse opened many eyes and the people started to question the govt.and MnDOT. The U.S. started to inspect bridges all over the country and were alot of birdges that were dangerous and not safe. I feel that Flatiron, the company building the bridge, should not be eligible for more money if they finish the project early because rushing things to get done is not the best way. It puts workers in risky and dangerous situations and also puts the american citizens in danger because if they rushed to finish the bridge then that means the company didnt take the time to make the bridge at least 99% safe. The company Flatiron is eligible for a 7 million dollar bonus if they finish before christmas eve 2008 and for every day before that they recieve 200000 dollars if the project is done. It doesn't sound like the best way to get things done but its the american govt. I do also think that in hiring Peter Sanderson they did get the best person for the job because he has built bridges all over the world. Hiring the best person for the job though is only part of it. Don't you think the state of Minnesota deserve the safest bridge possible that has not been rushed?