35W Bridge collapse remnants released; 6 year anniversary

5:55 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - August 1, 2013 marks the six-year anniversary of the 35W bridge collapse -- and this year some people can actually get a piece of the collapsed bridge.

Now that litigation is over, the legislature passed a law earlier this year that allows the state to give away some pieces of the bridge and sell the rest for scrap.

About 30 to 40 people have already reserved a piece, mostly survivors for whom the steel is particularly significant.

"It's a very bittersweet day," says collapse survivor Lindsay Walz. The memory is as vivid for Lindsay as the day it happened.

"The free fall was what I thought would kill me."

She plunged more than 100 feet when the 35W bridge collapsed, nearly drowned and with a broken back swam to shore.

To deal with the trauma, art is Lindsay's outlet and she's opened a new youth center called Courageous Hearts in south Minneapolis, where art is the focus.

Soon, she'll have her own piece of the 35W bridge, part of the structure that gave way under her six years ago. She plans to turn steel into art.

"A way to transform something that was really tragic and awful and give it some new meaning," says Lindsay.

"We want to make sure that pieces of remnant steel are special to those who are able to receive a piece," says MnDOT Bridge Chief Nancy Daubenberger.

Educational institutions like the University of St. Thomas engineering school will also get a piece of the bridge. UST will use its piece in a pledge ceremony each engineering graduate takes, an oath to always serve their communities no matter what they design, build or touch.

"We hope that the bridge piece will be part of the reflection on each of these students' obligation to serve," says UST engineering school Dean Don Weinkauf.

Families of people who died in the collapse, first responders and agencies involved in the investigation will also get to have a piece of the bridge.

MnDOT has been storing about nine million pounds of structural steel.

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