Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Victims Petition Court for Access to SiteAug 15, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
Lawyers for victims of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse have petitioned federal court for access to the site of the disaster so that their own experts can investigate the collapse. Evidence from such an investigation could be used in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits. The collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge that killed at least 9 people and injured 100 others is expected to lead to many such lawsuits.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the petition was filed by a Minneapolis law firm on behalf of three victims and the families of two people who died in the Minneapolis Bridge collapse. The petition, which was filed in US District Court in Minneapolis, did not reveal the names of the parties involved, but it did request that the court grant investigators access to the site of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse no later than today. The petition said that access to the site is needed before evidence is destroyed.
The I-35 W Bridge collapsed on August 1, at 6:05 p.m. It was the height of Minneapolis’ evening rush hour, and cars were lined up bumper-to- bumper across the span. At least 88 vehicles and hundreds of people fell 60 feet into the Mississippi River below. Nine bodies have been recovered from the site of the disaster so far, but four people are still missing and presumed dead.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) is moving quickly to replace the collapsed I-35 W Bridge. Yesterday, MNDOT revealed preliminary designs for the replacement bridge, which the agency hopes to have in place by the end of 2008. The new bridge would be twice as wide as the collapsed Minneapolis Bridge and would span 10 lanes instead of 8. MNDOT said the bridge will be either a concrete box or steel structure. Like its predecessor, its piers will not be set in the water in order to allow for the flow of traffic on the Mississippi River.
The preliminary design was presented at a meeting of the Minneapolis City Council yesterday. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, some council members were unhappy that the new bridge would not include room for a light rail connection into the city. But MNDOT said that federal money for the replacement bridge came with certain conditions, one being that the structure could not be an enhanced version of the Minneapolis Bridge. Building a bridge for light rail transit would entail adding enhancements that could jeopardize federal funding of the project.
MNDOT also tried to assure the City Council that the ambitious schedule for replacing the I-35 W Bridge would not hurt the quality of the new structure. An MNDOT project manager told City Council that the new Minneapolis Bridge would “be built to last 100 years.”