Steel from I-35W bridge to be released

Published 10:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2013

ST. PAUL — A legislator wants a chunk of the collapsed interstate bridge to remind him of the dangers of neglected infrastructure. Survivors have sought the crumpled steel as mementos of that deadly day in Minneapolis six years ago today. Civil engineering instructors and historians see value in the wreckage, too.

In a few weeks, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials will begin parceling out tons of steel from the Interstate 35W bridge, which collapsed during rush hour on Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others.

Some nine million pounds of rusting, lime-green steel are spread across two storage facilities, and it will be distributed under a law approved this spring. Whatever isn’t claimed by Thanksgiving will be sold for scrap, potentially netting more than $500,000.

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It’s a closing chapter in a saga that began when the busy eight-lane bridge suddenly buckled on a muggy evening, sending dozens of vehicles crashing into the Mississippi River and each other, and stirring ripples of worry about the nation’s aging infrastructure. Investigators blamed a design flaw that was exacerbated by extra weight from a resurfacing project.

“Anybody who was on that bridge when it fell or had family on that bridge when it fell will get some steel if they want,” MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said.