Firms cited in bridge collapse get $55 million in new contracts

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Since the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge two years ago, state transportation officials have awarded more than $55 million in contracts to URS Corp. and Progressive Contractors Inc. — the two companies it now holds largely responsible for the disaster.

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) records show that it gave the two companies contracts for projects across the state in those two years, including work to predesign other bridges. At least one of the companies played a small part in building the new I-35W bridge.

URS’ most recent contract with MnDOT is for a traffic simulation project in the Twin Cities metro area. The agency authorized the $99,892 contract July 23 — just a few days before the state filed suit against URS, a San Francisco-based company that for four years was MnDOT’s main consultant concerning the bridge. The lawsuit cites URS as negligent and accuses it of violating basic engineering standards.

MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said Friday that the agency would not comment on other contracts it has awarded to URS because of its lawsuit against the company regarding the I-35W bridge. “We do not comment on matters under litigation,” he said.

But it’s OK to give away taxpayers’ dollars – without comment.

In its lawsuit, the state accused URS of failing to adequately inspect and analyze the 40-year-old steel-truss bridge and of failing to detect that the bridge’s gusset plates were underdesigned and inadequate. It collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others.

In May, the state filed a legal claim against Progressive Contractors, saying that the construction company whose workers were on the bridge the day it fell did not tell MnDOT the details of its plan to place heavy equipment and materials on the bridge.

Bureaucrats so rigid and unable to change they’d rather give money away to incompetents than find a new way to do business.

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