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A cyclist rode along the bike trail near the Martin Sabo Bridge.

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Contract for Sabo Bridge consultants rises to $550K

  • Article by: MAYA RAO
  • Star Tribune
  • July 31, 2012 - 9:16 PM

The bill to fix problems at the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge in Minneapolis has grown to nearly $1 million, as Hennepin County commissioners voted Tuesday to increase a contract with a firm consulting on the damaged bike and pedestrian bridge to more than five times the original amount.

The commissioners' Public Works, Energy and Environment Committee approved raising the agreement with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates to $550,000 to design repairs and manage construction.

Those charges come on top of at least $420,000 the city said in May that it had spent to respond to failures on the bridge.

In February, officials first approved the contract with Illinois-based Wiss, Janney, Elstner -- the same firm that investigated the cause of the fatal Interstate 35W bridge collapse -- for up to $100,000 to investigate why the longest set of cables on the pedestrian and bicycle bridge broke loose that month and why other cable anchors were cracked.

Since then, the county has approved separate increases of $200,000, $150,000 and, on Tuesday, $100,000 for the firm to expand its role in implementing permanent bridge repairs. The latest addition covers the cost of detailed engineering drawings for reinforcements of cable connection plates.

The city of Minneapolis, which owns the Sabo Bridge, is splitting the cost of the work with Hennepin County. The county oversaw construction of the $5.1 million span, which opened in November 2007.

Also Tuesday, the public works panel approved a $25,000 reimbursement from the county to the city for work that allowed the bridge to reopen in June.

Officials are in discussions with companies involved in the bridge's construction about who should pay for the repairs. Wiss, Janney, Elstner's investigation found in June that the span's design allowed winds as light as 5 to 10 miles an hour to compromise the cables. The firm that designed the bridge, URS Corp., also paid a $52 million settlement for its work on the Interstate 35W bridge that collapsed five years ago Wednesday.

That report led the Met Council to deny URS a $94 million contract on the Southwest light-rail project and instead recommend multiple engineering contracts for companies to bid on. That does not include the costs for permanent bridge repairs, which have yet to be determined.

Maya Rao • 612-673-4210

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