State's suit against designer of 35W bridge to go forward

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 29, 2012 - 6:58 PM

U. S. Supreme Court declines to hear the appeal from firm linked to design.

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gking2mnMay. 29, 1210:12 AM

They did something right. The company fudge to cut corners. And now one of the other defendants wants to design and build the new stillwater bridge, right.

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acidradioMay. 29, 1210:55 AM

Everyone in this had blood on their hands. And the customer always gets what they ask for. To be cheap the state pushed the engineering firms to cut corners and tell them "It's OK, this bridge doesn't have major problems." Pawlenty decided to have his Lt. Governor also be the Transportation Commissioner. That $90K that was saved there amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars of bad practices, like collapsing bridges. URS, instead of being objective and saying no, decided that future contracts with the state were more of a priority and succumbed to the pressure to be a yes-man and do exactly what their customer, MnDOT asked for. The federal government and by proxy MnDOT in the 1960s built this bridge to the lowest standard necessary to be called an interstate highway. Compared to a lot of other highway bridges I've seen it just looked weak. To be honest I think Jacobs (actually its predecessor) probably designed it to exactly the low spec that the government asked for and said "Are you sure about this?" when it all took place. But the customer gets what they ask for.

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mitchell24May. 29, 1211:02 AM

It is a horrible accident, but my concern is that this bridge was built in the 1960s for a lot less capacity. Plus, our own government were the ones who were supposed to maintain it. Shouldn't the government have kept better records and known the bridge was under capicitized and not maintained. How many people can we really blame for this accident?

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taftjMay. 29, 1211:26 AM

so the state government can pass a law that bypasses the statute of repose for one specific occurrence but leave it in place for all other occurrences? For those who don't know what the statute of repose is, google it, the state just ripped up a law because the law happens to not be helpful to them in this one specific case.

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jchilman12May. 29, 1211:59 AM

acidradio, while I understand your desire to blame Pawlenty for a bridge built in the 60's, it seems like a stretch. It would be the same as holding Dayton accountable for the Stillwater bridge. Why? I mean you can blame President Obama all you want for the Gulf Oil spill because it happened on his watch, but I don't think it is fair. I agree with the Supreme Court on this matter that there was nothing legally stopping this case from going forward.

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aurthurmarxMay. 29, 1212:48 PM

***acidradio - To be cheap the state pushed the engineering firms to cut corners and tell them "It's OK, this bridge doesn't have major problems." *** Quite the theory you have there but I think if you began a search for proof of this allegation you might still be looking the very day you could look no further.

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mankato58May. 29, 1212:55 PM

I agree with mitchell24. This was a 40 year old structure that had been under the control and maintenance of the consumer for 40 years. Who is responsible: The company that designed it based on the demands of the customer; the State Engineers that reviewed the plans and signed off on them; the State Engineers who oversaw and signed off on each item used and its installation; the State Engineers who oversaw the maintenance of the structure; the State Engineers who approved the changes to the structure over the years; or the contractors who actually did the maintenance work? What ever happened to the initial findings that the contractors working that day had overloaded the bridge with construction equipment and supplies? One more question: What were the design standards in the 1960's? To hold a design firm responsible to today's standards for something they did 40 years ago is unreasonable. I think there are so many things here that are out of the designer's control that the only people that will be victorious will be the attorneys for both sides.

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marathongirlMay. 29, 12 1:33 PM

Why should we expect anyone to take responsiblity for their own actions when our own government won't? If I buy a high performance car, that is recommended to only use high grade gas, don't ever get the oil changed, rotate the tires, check brakes etc, when I burn up that engine or end up hurting myself or someone else, can I hold the car manufacturer responsible? The state ignored recommended maintenance and the bridge was not built to the capacity it was handling when it fell...that is not design flaw of 40 years ago, it was incompetence today.

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hobie2May. 29, 12 1:50 PM

A design flaw is building a bridge to hold a fully occupied bridge with 3 times 140,000 lb of semis at one spot and not taking into account someone putting a 700,000 pound pile of sand and gravel on one side of the deck?... glad that group is only writing reports and not designing anything.

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FrankLMay. 29, 12 2:01 PM

Lets realize this was not cutting corners, it was most likely a simple mistake. My dad used to draw up bridge plans, and most of the work was math, calculating loads etc. Remember there were no calculators back then, slide rules were not accurate enough. Addition and subtraction were done by hand or on a mechanical adding machine. Multiplication and division were done using LOG books, I won't explain it, but it was the only way to get 5 decimal place accuracy. My guess it was a transcription error as it when from the designer to the draftsman.

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