Reporting Heather Brown
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thursday will be six years since the 35W bridge collapsed killing 13 people and injuring 145. Now, that all the lawsuits have been settled, the state is finally ready to give away or salvage the 9 million pounds of steel left behind.
Brent Olson and his wife, Chris, are two of those who’d like a piece or two of the bridge. They were headed to the Twins game when the bridge went down.
“I have two young granddaughters and I think, at some point in the future, trying to explain to them what happened to us, it might add a little bit,” he said.
Almost all of the bridge was saved after the collapse. For years, much of the steel sat on the Bohemian Flats near the University of Minnesota. Some of it went to Washington, DC for the National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
In 2010, most of that steel was moved to an indoor MnDOT facility in Oakdale and an outdoor facility in Afton.
This spring, the state Legislature passed a law outlying which people and groups would be able to get a piece of the bridge. Because the bridge is state property, the Legislature was involved.
On that list are: the Minnesota Historical Society, survivors and family members of those who were killed, federal and state transportation agencies, institutions of higher education with engineering programs and any other people the Commissioner believes was directly impacted by the collapse.
“We’ve done a thorough investigation of who we think was impacted and contacted them,” said State Bridge Engineer Nancy Daubenberger. “We’re getting word from them, what they’re interested, what size of piece.”
So far, Daubenberger says she’s heard from 30 to 40 survivors who’d like a piece. She believes some other pieces will go to MnDOT, the NTSB, the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, the City of Minneapolis and others. People have until Thanksgiving to decide.
“These are not souvenirs that MnDOT is giving out,” she said.
Most of the steel that’s not being given away will be scrapped or recycled. The money from that, which could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, will go into the state’s general fund.