Tom Tillberry: Send Firm That Inspected I-35W Bridge Packing

In a Star Tribune op-ed, the Fridley legislator again argues against URS Corp. getting more government contracts, including any part of work on the Southwest LRT project.

State Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B) of Fridley continues his effort to stop public contracts from going to URS Corp. with an op-ed article in today's Star Tribune.

, specifically the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit project, in a letter last April. . Then last week came news that suggested Tillberry's argument had resonated: .

Here are excerpts from Tillberry's op-ed today:

On Aug. 1, Minnesota will mark the five-year anniversary of the fall of the Interstate 35W bridge. ... My friend and neighbor Pat Holmes died on the bridge. Since that day, I have been waiting for URS, the company that was hired by the state to evaluate the integrity of the bridge, to apologize and to accept responsibility. ...

[URS] has been quite successful in lining up more state and local contracts. (While the Metropolitan Council has decided not to give URS the entire $94 million contract to engineer the new Southwest Corridor light-rail line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, the company could still bid and be awarded a substantial contract.) In the midst of all this comes the news that cables on the URS-designed Sabo Bridge were brought down by light winds of as little as 6 miles per hour because of a "vortex shedding" phenomenon well-known to bridge engineers and to anyone familiar with the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse, an event viewable on YouTube. ...

"The phenomenon can typically be controlled with even a small amount of damping," concluded the independent WJE Engineers Report. In other words, there was a cheap and easy solution that was simply missed by URS. ...

Bizarrely, a citizen, presumably without engineering training, took video of the Sabo Bridge cables vibrating—also available on YouTube—and thought there might be a problem. ...

How many more bridges must fail before the Metropolitan Council takes URS's horrible track record in Minnesota into account? What confidence will we have in the dozens of new bridges to be engineered by URS along the way to Eden Prairie?

We've tried everything with URS. We've given it the benefit of the doubt; we've waited for it to apologize; we've given it opportunities to make amends; we've even awarded it some more public contracts. But now it's time to send it packing.


  • See examples of the two YouTube clips Tillberry makes reference to by clicking the video thumbnails.
  • Read the letter from Tillberry to Dayton by clicking on the PDF thumbnail.


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