Firm tied to 35W bridge still getting Mpls. contracts

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2012 - 7:40 PM

The firm tied to the 35W bridge has recently received $9 million.

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swmnguyMay. 30, 12 8:55 PM

In 2007 the STrib posted a story about the process of inspecting the 35W bridge. In that story, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, also Transportation Commissioner, rejected URS's recommended course of action because it was too expensive, telling them to "sharped up their pencils," in the classic phrase so loved by the penny-wise and pound-foolish. If I recall correctly, Molnau was somewhat open to URS's third proposal, which was by far the cheapest, and which the company explicitly did not recommend. Then the bridge fell down.

The most interesting thing about the whole story was how quickly the STrib pulled it off their website and never mentioned it again. At the time I chalked that up to the weird kid-glove treatment the Minnesota media gave to the entire Pawlenty administration. It never made much sense, as that administration will not be fondly remembered by history; not so much for ideological reasons but for glaring issues of competence and integrity.

I thought part of the quid pro quo would be that URS would get a free pass from lawsuits, and be freed from future criticism. If any lawsuit made it to court, I thought, URS's attorneys would bring up Molnau's incredibly irresponsible handling of the matter, and perhaps the bizarre misconduct of Sonia Pitt, who was the Pawlenty administration's top emergency coordinator, who stayed on vacation out of town with her paramour for well over a week rather than do her job. Pitt was fired, and Molnau inexplicably given a graceful way out. But URS certainly had that behavior all ready to present in court, should the opportunity arise.

In short, I can't see any reason URS shouldn't continue to get work for which they are qualified. It isn't their fault they had dealings with some of the most irresponsible people in Minnesota government history.

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teddygMay. 30, 12 9:11 PM

I think part of the problem is that the top-tier infrastructure design firms like HNTB don't like doing business here.

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obviousMay. 30, 1210:03 PM

Nice ... Lowest bidder always wins?? ... What about looking into their track record and judging by that ?? ... Usually get what you pay for, don't you think ?? ... The placement of the raw materials for the work on the 35W bridge should still be questioned even five years later ...

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mno0624May. 30, 1211:08 PM

Even if you give them a pass on the 35W bridge, the Sabo bridge problems raise some more red flags.

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shootzMay. 31, 12 6:29 AM

It's to bad there is not a local alternative. Would be nice to see that money stay in the state.

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BobtheguyMay. 31, 12 6:57 AM

... a study to see if streetcars are a good idea? Heck, pay me and a few folks I know $39.95 and I will complete the study immediately. NO!

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mn2niceMay. 31, 12 9:24 AM

URS was deeply involved in the design build construction project for the Hoover Dam Bypass bridge over the Colorado River. It is the largest single span concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere, and it is 900 feet above the river. So why then would they have difficulty with the Martin Sabo bridge. Just because a firm has experience with other bridge projects doesn't mean they will always get it right.

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infowarsMay. 31, 1210:10 AM

It's called Fascism. The merger of govt and private industry. It's happening at the federal level as well as the local level now.

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antisuburbsMay. 31, 1211:45 AM

oh, no! The Southwest light rail line? Can you see a derailment in the future?

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antisuburbsMay. 31, 1211:12 PM

sounds like the owner of the firm has a friend in the government. or they just have enough money to buy a friend in the government

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