Eight months after the I-35W Bridge collapse, survivors say the thoughts of it still take a toll on their emotional health. At a conference of mental health workers, a few survivors and some rescuers talked about their battles with psychological strain and other fears that haunt them. Organizers are from the Hennepin County Medical Center, which took in most of the bodies and survivors during the night of August 1.
A therapist and emergency responder from the center said the emotional strain will take weeks, months or longer for symptoms to surface and makes it difficult for some people to make connection with the disaster.
These facts are under consideration as the Minnesota House and Senate passed victims’ compensation bills with two different approaches. The House wants to set aside about $40 million for victims and would not limit individual awards. The Senate bill would cap individual claims at $400,000 and set aside a total of $26.5 million for all victims’ families and survivors.
A conference committee is working on a compromise, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty is leaning toward the Senate bill but is inclined to provide more money for the most severe victims’ cases.
Continuous concrete pours help approach spans take shape
More than half of the main span pre-cast segments have been poured and cured. Beginning in May, segments will be attached to the approach spans on both sides of the Mississippi River with help from a ringer crane mounted on a barge that recently arrived from Huoma, Louisiana.
Crews have been assembling the ringer crane’s boom and mast this past week and will continue until the end of April. The crane will lift segments to their proper places to form the main span.
During the past week, crews poured the retaining wall along the west side of the entrance ramp from University Avenue to I-35W southbound, continued work on the south side pedestrian tunnel, erected falsework on the north side of the river, and continued pouring concrete for one to three main span segments a day in the casting yard.
The bottom layer of the roadway south of the river will be completely poured by Friday, April 18. The top layer, or deck, will be poured in two stages to be completed by May 1. Crews also must finish pouring concrete on the approach spans on both sides of the river. On the north side, the first phase of the superstructure will be poured during the week of April 21 with the final deck pour expected by the end of May.
More work at a rapid pace
Cemstone, provider of the bridge’s concrete, has kept its Minneapolis plant open several nights a week to produce enough concrete for the construction. In addition, crews continue to work night shifts seven days a week on both sides of the river and in the casting yard to stay on the construction schedule.
Streets near the bridge are closed occasionally for trucks hauling materials and pre-cast segments, conducting utility relocation, widening I-35W northbound and reconstructing curb cuts at various street corners.
With spring’s arrival, traffic became more congested with heavier traffic not only near the reconstruction site but also around the Twin Cities metro. The city of Minneapolis and MnDOT have provided route information on their websites to inform residents of road closings.
Jon Chiglo, MnDOT project manager, continues to appear on radio and television to inform the public about the bridge’s construction.