Democratic leaders in Minnesota continue to be critical of Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who is also commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The latest criticism targets her reluctance to fire her director of Homeland Security, Sonia Pitt, until three months after the I-35W bridge collapse. The governor's office is reviewing Pitt's supervision and will make its report public.
Molnau's office revealed that an internal investigation began on Pitt before the bridge collapsed because Pitt's colleagues complained about her absences from the office and her expense accounts. The investigation was at a slow pace in order to avoid any legal mistakes that may bring a lawsuit against MnDOT. Molnau clarified Pitt's title saying her job was training and advising others about how to create the command structure. Pitt had no emergency management responsibilities nor did MnDOT avoid its responsibilities during and after the calamity, said Molnau's assistant.
But The New Ulm Journal, in its November 14 editorial, said "Taking months to fire an employee who should have been fired in August is not a sign of strong leadership."
At the bridge site, a giant crawler crane with a 250-ton lifting capacity will start work on the south side of the Mississippi River where it will support drilling on Pier 2. The crane will arrive in pieces on several trucks to be assembled on-site and then it will lift big rebar cages to their upright positions and other extremely heavy loads.
Also during the next few weeks, over 100 steel I-beams will be pounded into the ground to support footings of the bridge piers. On the north side, grading work began near the historic rock wall to prepare for driving piles. A second shift started work from 6 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. to speed the construction of the new bridge and have moved in diesel powered loaders and dump trucks for grading the site.
Flatiron-Manson began "Sidewalk Superintendent Talks" during construction to inform the public about the current construction. Every Saturday at 11 a.m., project team representatives will provide updates and answer questions from interested parties in front of Grandma's Saloon on Washington Avenue and 19th Avenue, south of the bridge site.