Caltrans offers to aid Minnesota officials

Drawing upon the lessons learned from the MacArthur Maze meltdown earlier this year, the California Department of Transportation has offered its help to Minnesota officials in rebuilding a collapsed Mississippi River bridge.

“We’ve offered our help, but there’s been no further discussion,” said Caltrans spokeswoman Lauren Wonder.

Wonder said that while Minnesota officials are busy mobilizing to have the new bridge up by next year, “our offer still stands.”

Caltrans offered the assistance in the days following the rush-hour collapse of the Interstate 35W span on Aug. 1 in Minneapolis. Nine bodies have been recovered from the accident site.

“Anything they needed — sending our experts out there, offering our assistance in recovery, help with the permit process,” Wonder said.

Caltrans could draw upon its own experience from the April 29 MacArthur Maze collapse to help guide Minnesota officials in meeting their goal of opening their replacement bridge by the end of 2008.

When ignited fuel from an overturned tanker truck caused the Maze explosion, experts predicted it would take months to rebuild the collapsed section.

However, catastrophic traffic snarls failed to materialize, as Caltrans set up temporary detours within days of the accident, and public transit increased its capacity for displaced riders.

The Interstate Highway 880 connector ramp that collapsed following the accident was reopened to traffic May 7.

tbarak@examiner.com

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