Just a few weeks ago, the new St. Anthony bridge in Minneapolis opened, to a heavy stream of commuter traffic. On August 1, 2007, the original bridge collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. The National Transportation Safety Board will issue an official report on the bridge collapse next month, but the likely cause has to do with gusset plates that were poorly designed in the 1960s. There are still 12,600 similar "steel deck truss" bridges in use in the U.S.
Nighttime bridge lighting is provided by LEDs, which require less maintenance and consume less energy; they are the first of their kind on any US bridge. The real-time monitoring, LED lighting, and self-cleaning concrete will provide valuable data for future bridge constructions.
Designed by Florida-based FIGG, the bridge opened on September 18 with ten lanes of traffic, but can support up to 14 lanes. It's future-proof in that it can also support a light-rail line and a high-occupancy vehicle lane.
"The new I-35W bridge was designed with the future in mind," says Linda Figg, the president, CEO, and director of bridge art at FIGG. "Multiple levels of redundancy and high-performance materials will ensure a safe, durable structure for over 100 years."
Contracting company Flatiron-Manson built the bridge in just 337 days -- most bridge projects take at least twice that long. To complete the construction in record time, FIGG designers planned two construction methods concurrently: a pre-cast segmental construction and a cast-in-place method. During winter months, the company built warming houses within which to construct 120 box girder segments.
Yes, there are similar bridges, but it was widely reported here that the gusset plates were thinner than the design specified. (as much as 50%). Speculation on who to blame ran rampant, but they settled for firing a few in the curren admin.
It's also worth noting that the current contractor was rewarded for the quick work. They got a huge bonus payout for every day that they were ahead of schedule.