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I-35 bridge set to re-open next week

The new interstate I-35 bridge is set to re-open next week according to the Star-Tribune, just over 13 months since the tragic collapse late last summer.

Gov. Pawlenty is scheduled for a news conference at 11:00am Monday morning. Pawlenty is expected to give an exact date for the bridge’s re-opening. The event will not be open to the public according to Kevin Gutknecht, “It would be great to be able to do it,? but according to the MnDOT spokesman the design elements for the new I-35 bridge do not warrant excess pedestrian traffic.

Construction crews, lead by Flatiron Construction, are finalizing efforts on the $234 million project, none of which are expected to cause delays. Area motorists will have access to the west-bound bridge sometime next week, possibly as early as Tuesday. Next week’s opening puts the bridge reconstruction ahead of the contractually-committed completion date of Dec. 24. It is still unclear whether Flatiron constructions will receive the $27 million in bonuses for finishing on Monday said Gutknecht.

The old interstate I-35 bridge collapsed Aug. 1st, 2007. Crews working round-the-clock since Nov. 1st have completed its replacement. According to MnDOT the replacement, “will be high-quality, safe and last for at least 100 years.? Tom Sorel, MnDOT Commissioner, expressed excitement over the re-opening to Minnesota motorists according to The Associated Press.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as reported by the Star-Tribune, said it is close to identiifying the factors that caused the collapse, leaving 13 dead and 145 injured. The NTSB is set to discuss their findings in Washington at a public hearing set for Nov. 13