Bridge Data Preservation
Because of the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and its contractors and consultants have been instructed to retain all data about all bridges in Minnesota.
Approximately 4,000 Letters of Notice have been mailed to contractors and consultants. All contractors and consultants performing work on or about any Minnesota bridge, and in possession of any data about that work, must preserve that data until further notice even if a contract permits destruction of the data after a period of time.
Please read the Notice below and take appropriate steps to retain data about Minnesota bridges.
NOTICE OF DUTY TO PRESERVE ALL DOCUMENTS OR DATA RELATING TO THE I-35W BRIDGE OR ANY OTHER MINNESOTA BRIDGE
The State has a duty to preserve all evidence in its possession, custody or control, whether printed or electronic, that might be or become relevant to any litigation that may arise out of the collapse of the I-35W bridge. This duty extends to such evidence held by MnDOT’s contractors and consultants who have worked on, reviewed, or supplied materials or services for any MnDOT bridge project. It is extremely important that all such evidence be preserved.
Accordingly, you are instructed to preserve all documents or data that relate to the I-35W bridge or any other Minnesota bridge. This includes, but is not limited to, documents or data pertaining to the design, construction, maintenance, and repair of bridges; inspections of bridges; rankings of bridges for safety and/or the need for repair/replacement; funding of the maintenance, repair, inspection, and construction of bridges; and written and e-mail communications about bridges.
Specifically, you should immediately take the following steps to preserve all documents or data relating to the I-35W bridge or any other Minnesota bridge:
- Suspend deletion, overwriting, or any other destruction or alteration of electronic information relating to the I-35W bridge or any other Minnesota bridge. This includes electronic information wherever it is stored (e.g., at a work station, on a laptop, or at home) and all forms of electronic communication (e.g., e-mail, word processing, calendars, voice messages, videos, photographs, and other information). All such information should be preserved in its original electronic form, so that all information contained within it, whether visible or not, is also available for inspection (i.e., it is not sufficient to make a hard copy of electronic communication).
- Preserve, and not alter or destroy, any hard copies of documents that relate to the I-35W bridge or any other Minnesota bridge.
- Preserve, and not alter or destroy, any documents or electronic information that are created after your receipt of this notice and that relate to the I-35W bridge or any other Minnesota bridge.
- Maintain a record of the steps you take to comply with this notice.
Please contact my office if you have questions about the scope or implementation of this notice.
Minnesota Department of Transportation
Acting Data Practices Compliance Official