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Flatiron team's score was by far the highest, at 91.47, which led to audible expressions of exasperation from members of the other teams in the crowded room. The scores of the other teams ranged from 55.98 to 67.88.
According to Jon Chiglo, MnDOT's manager for the I-35W project, the selection criteria included points for such things as quality control and public outreach, which meant "we might pay a little more."
Flatiron's selection, however, was highlighted by critics, who said the rush to build a new bridge isn't warranted, and is barreling ahead even before Minneapolis officials can hold a municipal consent hearing.
That public hearing, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at the Thrivent Financial auditorium, is part of a process that allows the city to comment on the capacity, access and land-use issues related to the new bridge.
A spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak, Jeremy Hanson, said the mayor had conveyed his feeling to state officials that they "do this right, not just do it quickly," also to no avail.
Concerns about project's pace
Hanson added that the mayor had hoped the selection of a company to build the bridge wouldn't happen before today's public hearing
Several DFL legislators also used Wednesday's event to argue that MnDOT is speeding ahead even as taxpayers' confidence in both Molnau and Gov. Tim Pawlenty had waned in the days since the collapse.
"Does Minnesota have confidence in those folks?" asked Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-Lindstrom. "I'm hearing not."
Kalin also said that MnDOT had given no explanation why, after offering each of the losing bidders a $300,000 stipend to cover their costs, the amount had risen to $500,000 apiece.
"With a project of this size, the stipend that we provided was consistent with the law," responded MnDOT's Bob McFarlin, who is Molnau's top assistant.