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35W Bridge
Workers remove last pieces of 35W bridge from river

From the Minneaplis Labor Review, October 18, 2007

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

Click here for accompanying photo essay.

MINNEAPOLIS — As the Labor Review went to press October 12, a demolition team coordinated by Carl Bolander & Sons Co. was due to soon complete the last work cutting up and removing all the pieces of the collapsed Interstate 35-W bridge.

A visit to the site September 29 caught work crews using cranes, torches, and barges to take the last large pieces of steel bridge structure from the Mississippi.

The union workers on the job included members of the Laborers, Iron Workers, and Operating Engineers, reported Evan Mackey, Bolander’s demolition division manager.

(Teamsters Local 120, however, took Bolander to task for using non-union independent trucking operators as part of the $15 million contract to demolish the bridge and remove debris).

Bolander’s Mackey said 50-60 workers were on site each day. “We’re working 12-hour days, six days a week,” he related.

“We’ve worked over 20,000 hours without an injury,” Mackey reported October 9.

From a vantage point high on the 10th Avenue bridge, a visitor September 29 could watch workers cutting steel with torches, crane operators and tugboat captains, all working together as in a finely choreographed dance.

The crane plucked a piece of steel from the river and set it down a temporary causeway extending into the river. Immediately, National Transportation Safety Board inspectors came close for a look.

The crane lifted the final huge twisted piece of steel from the river, holding it aloft like an angler with a prize fish. Suddenly, coming from downstream, a barge pushed by a tugboat moved into position. Slowly, the crane operator set the piece down on the barge.

Inspectors climbed aboard within moments.

Soon, the barge would take the recovered steel pieces downstream to a spot on the west bank of the river right before the Washington Avenue bridge.

There dozens of pieces of twisted steel lay on the ground, numbered with spray  paint, looking like some kind of odd sculpture garden.

Bolander’s Mackey said he expected the final demolition work to be completed by October 13.

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