New 35W bridge to open at 5 a.m. Thursday Sept 18

New 35W bridge to open at 5 a.m. Thursday
by Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio,
Melanie Sommer, Minnesota Public Radio
September 15, 2008
Minneapolis — The new Interstate 35W bridge will open to traffic early Thursday morning, state officials announced today.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, along with Minnesota’s two U.S. senators, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, announced details of the opening this morning at a news conference at the site of the bridge.
The $234 million bridge was fast-tracked to restore a traffic route that accounted for 140,000 trips a day. The old bridge collapse into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring nearly 150 others.
Pawlenty thanked officials at the federal, state and local levels who helped get the bridge constructed in a short amount of time.
“Minnesota’s congressional delegation has been outstading,” he said, saying members from both parties displayed incredible teamwork and bipartisanship in pushing to get the bridge rebuilt.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced plans for a memorial garden to remember the victims of the bridge collapse.
“We’ve been working very quietly but very hard for almost a year with the families of the victims of the bridge collapse, to come up with a memorial that they found was appropriate,” said Rybak.
Tom Oslund, a landscape designer who designed Gold Medal Park next to the Guthrie Theater, described what is being called a remembrance garden.
“Simplicity is the key,” said Oslund, in describing an 81-foot square site with a 65-foot circle in the middle of it. The area will feature a 13-foot diameter fountain in the center.
Oslund and Rybak said the choice of Gold Medal Park as the site of the garden is appropriate, because of its role as an impromptu gathering spot when the bridge collapsed. Rybak said Flatiron Construction and Trivent Financial Services have already provided grant money to partially fund the memorial.