Minnesota’s Transportation bill passed on an override to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto. Pawlenty, who was in Washington, D. C., returned and called the plan “ridiculous” and staged a press conference emphasizing a deeper state deficit, as much as $1 billion, with this legislation.
Six Republican legislators voted with the Democrats to override the veto and, as of Monday, February 25, all have been stripped of committee leadership roles. Two Republican legislators told the house minority leader that he would have to fire them from their positions because they are acting on what their constituents and their consciences tell them.
The state Republican Party chair warned dissenters they would face an uphill battle trying to win party endorsement and help in re-election bids in the coming months.
Hours later, Senate Democrats said they plan to vote as early as Thursday, February 28, to reject Carol Molnau as the Department of Transportation commissioner. Democrats joined in a meeting to discuss the strategy to oust Molnau and the senate majority leader said they have the votes to deny confirmation.
Bridge victims receive unexpected help
The group Arizona is in, so are Los Lobos and Sparklehorse. These and 54 other local and national musicians donated their songs to a three-CD collection called Musicians For Minneapolis with proceeds going to Minnesota Helps – Bridge Disaster Fund. Stores such as Best Buy and Target already sell the CD that was produced by Electro-Voice, a Burnsville, Minnesota, company that makes microphones and speaker equipment.
The fund, under the Minneapolis Foundation, has $1.2 million and already distributed $468,000 to the I-35W Bridge survivors and victim’s families.
Many recipients are waiting for more help from the Minnesota Legislature, but legislators question the standard of such a fund and what it means for future catastrophes. Bridge survivors are upset with legislators who question the creation of a new disaster fund.
Structure rises from both sides of the Mississippi
Flatiron-Manson crews poured concrete for the first part of the footing at Abutment 5. Shoring continues along the frontage road near University Avenue where steel supports will be placed near the abutment. Crews have completed relocating traffic signal cabinets at East and West Frontage Road and University Avenue.
A steel form has been removed from Pier 3 southbound, then covered with insulation blankets to protect the concrete. This was the first opportunity to see a finished column.
As concrete is poured for Pier 2 and Pier 4 in different stages, the bridge is taking shape. At Pier 3, footing for the northbound section will be poured by the end of this week. Only a few more stages of the concrete pour are left to bring all columns to their full height of 70 feet.
In the heated sheds, crews continue to pour concrete for the segments of the main span; five segments have been completed and another five will be poured by the end of February.
On the south bank of the Mississippi, crews built more scaffolding to support the forms for the side spans of the bridge extending from Abutment 1 to the river’s edge.
Media coverage expands
During the weekend of February 23 and 24, MnDOT bridge engineer Jon Chiglo provided updates on the bridge construction on the three major television stations. Along with Flatiron-Manson safety manager Peter Walton, they also talked about worker safety on the job, explained various pieces of safety equipment, and cited the many steps they take everyday to keep the site injury-free.
With mild weekend weather, the public flocked to the Tenth Avenue Bridge to see the ongoing construction. Many people took photos or movies of the action.