Workers fired; Homeland Security investigates hiring
Last week, two workers on the I-35W bridge assaulted a man coming out of a Minneapolis bar giving the victim a black eye, swollen neck and bruises on his body. Minneapolis police captured the workers and charged one of them with a misdemeanor. Flatiron Constructors, the lead contractor on the bridge project, fired the two workers and evicted them from company housing.
In another bridge-related issue, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, is demanding an explanation from the Department of Homeland Security as to why the agency hired Sonia Pitt as a transportation security specialist 10 days after she was fired at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Officials at Homeland Security are now investigating why Pitt continued to hold a federal security clearance after her dismissal, whether her application to the Transportation Security Administration was complete and truthful, and whether cronyism or corruption was involved in her hiring.
Workers examine the outside of the northbound bridge to prepare the surface for painting. Photo by Ivy Chang.
Pitt was fired from TSA on July 31 after reporters looked into her hiring. Klobuchar stated that the case raises serious questions of competency at Homeland Security and linked several other cases of incompetency.
Jim Oberstar, D-MN, and chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, said through his spokesperson that he will closely monitor the investigation.
Bridge deck is complete
On Saturday, August 9, construction crews completed pouring concrete on the last part of Span 4 on the north end of the bridge to complete construction of the main span. Workers are installing signs, lightin g and anti-icing devices on all paved areas until the bridge opens.
Work continues on the area between the north abutment and Second Street Southeast to pour concrete to connect it to the highway. In addition, crews are pouring concrete for shoulders, ramps, curbs and gutters along the mainline highway. Bridge painting continues on the main span while other workers are excavating a holding pond on the south side of the Mississippi River and seeding the area around the newly landscaped holding pond on the north side of the river.
Crews completed the concrete pour on Span 4 of the southbound bridge deck (left). Work begins in the "sandbox" area (right) to grade and pour concrete. Photo by Ivy Chang.
Grading work began on West River Road with periodic road closings. From August 18 - 21, one lane each on Washington Avenue and University Avenue will close as construction workers add lane stripes and other permanent markings. Other roads in the vicinity will close as construction vehicles haul and deliver supplies.
A few details will complete the construction
Finishing work to complete bridge construction includes the following:
- painting all bridge surfaces; testing the anti-icing system
- aesthetic and highway lighting installation and testing
- bridge deck grinding, finishing and striping
- installing guard rails
- completing approaches and ramps on both ends of the bridge
- landscaping areas of the corridor
- installing rip rap along the river shore to protect bridge foundations
- finishing stone masonry facing on the bridge abutments
- installing and testing traffic signals
- cleaning the entire site