The idea of a Transportation Worker Memorial originated in the Metro District and at an AFSCME union meeting in 1993. It was revived in 1997 by Dave Smith, a maintenance worker. In the spring of 1998, MnDOT gave the idea formal approval. A joint MnDOT/Industry task force was formed and it was proposed to the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board on Oct. 28, 1998.
Design concepts were considered at a Worker Memorial Day event April 28, 1999, in Rochester as part of a contest involving MnDOT employees. Trent Weber’s concept was selected.
“I chose a bridge motif because it represents how we help connect our state’s vast boundaries. A bridge that leads us into the future but also connects us to our past. We must never forget those who lost their lives,” Weber said.
The firm of Wold Architects and Engineers was chosen to design the memorial. Guy Davidson was the chief architect. The memorial was fabricated and erected in the spring of 2000 and it was dedicated on April 28, 2000. Then Transportation Commissioner Elwin Tinklenberg spoke at the dedication. Here are a few of Commissioner Tinklenberg’s comments:
“Workers Memorial Day is not just about people who died – it’s about people who lived a life of public service…a life lived in public services is a valuable life – an honorable life, a life worth recognizing and remembering…The monument we are about to unveil (is) a memorial to the friends, co-workers and loved ones we have lost. The bridge centerpiece’s missing support reminds the viewer to remember the lost worker.”