The formal period to comment on design plans for the new bridge is now over and construction has begun. However, Mn/DOT and Flatirion/Manson, the contracting team that will design and build the new bridge, remain interested in your comments and questions. Please contact us if you'd like to share a comment or question.
At public meetings, open houses, a community design workshop, and through this Web site, Mn/DOT received thousands of comments and questions about plans for the new bridge.
We have also reviewed comments that people made through forums in the online media and letters to the editor, and we have held many meetings with local officials and interest groups. List of our meetings and public involvement opportunities.
Your comments and concerns have made a difference; together we will build a bridge that will meet our region's needs for years to come.
Below is Mn/DOT's response to some of the most frequent comments we've received.
Initially Mn/DOT's assessment was that incorporating Light Rail Transit into the new I-35W bridge would cause unacceptable delays in design and construction..Aug 10, 2007 letter from Lt. Gov./Commissioner Carol Molnau and Metropolitan Council Chair Peter Bell issued a letter to Gov. Tim Pawlenty
We immediately began receiving comments from the public, the City of Minneapolis and other lawmakers that rebuilding the bridge presented a "golden opportunity" to leave the door open for future light rail lines.
The new design has the strength to support a light rail line. Although there are no current plans for LRT on the bridge, this gives transportation planners flexibility as future regional plans for light rail are developed.
The new design also includes options to include transit advantages such as a Bus Rapid Transit lane or some other form of managed lane, e.g, a High Occupancy Toll (HOT – MnPASS), or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane.
The preliminary plans that Mn/DOT released were just that--preliminary plans--and did not include visual enhancements.
We received many comments from you saying that you wanted a bridge that was "artistic and beautiful" that provided a "gateway to downtown Minneapolis" and that was respectful of the terrible tragedy of Aug. 1. "Don't build an ugly box" you told us.
Actually, our plans were never to build an "ugly box" Since the new I-35W bridge is a design-build project, the design-build team that is chosen to build the new bridge will also be responsible for designing the new bridge. In the Request for Proposal that Mn/DOT issued to teams interested in bidding on the project, we specified that 20 percent of their technical score would be based on aesthetics. The project was awarded to contracting team with the best combination of price and technical score.)
In addition, a Visual Quality Advisory team developed a list of recommendations for the new bridge that incorporates your comments and will ensure that the bridge will fit into the environment around it. Context Sensitive Design
These recommendations have been supplied to the four design-build teams preparing proposals for the project. The winning contractor team will continue to work with the visual quality team as design of the new bridge progresses.
Within days of the collapse, Mn/DOT began the process of finding a design-build team to build a new bridge. We want to move fast because our cost estimates show that road-user costs due to the unavailability of the bridge is estimated to be :$400,000 per day. In addition to the road user cost study, further
analysis by the Department of Economic Development and Mn/DOT estimate the economic
impact - or loss to Minnesota’s economy – at about $17
million in 2007 and $43 million in 2008.
You have told that you are concerned that we will sacrifice safety for speed, or that we would build a bridge that will not meet future transportation needs.
We believe we can do both--build quickly, but build a bridge that is safe, beautiful and will meet our region's future transportation needs. Mn/DOT will not, under any circumstances sacrifice safety for speed in delivering this project.
"Every tragedy has an opportunity,. We should be building the bridge with the future in mind," you told us.
We are listening. While the expected infusion of federal emergency funding comes with some limitations, we are not going to simply replace the old bridge. The proposed new bridge will include additional capacity, the potential for LRT and will be designed to blend in with the community it serves.
In the coming months there will be additional opportunities for public involvement. We urge to you watch for opportunities to share your thoughts and concerns, and to check this Web site often. We promise to keep you informed of plans as the new bridge moves forward.