Not long before the 35W bridge collapsed, the bridge was inspected by an engineering company that gave the bridge – and its ailing gussets – a clean bill of heath.
And we know how that turned out.
Last week, a couple of cables on the Sabo pedestrian/bike bridge snapped, closing the bridge and, for several days, the Ventura Trolley.
The incidents have one thing in common; the inspectors on the old 35W bridge and the engineering consultants on the Sabo were URS Corporation of San Francisco.
What better way to hold an engineering company with this kind of track record accountable than award it a consulting contract for the state’s next big make-work money pit project?
That’s right – Mark Dayton’s Met Council is in negotiations with URS to consult on their Southwest Light Rail line According to a source in the engineering industry with direct knowledge of the Southwest LRT bidding process, the Met has gone through a round of cuts in selecting engineers, andURS is one of the contenders, if not the finalist, to get the job; the source used the term “final negotiations”.
I sent a request for information to the Met Council over the weekend, specifically asking what stage the Council was at, what firms were in contention, and if URS was one of them. I got the following response on Sunday afternoon:
The Metropolitan Council is in the midst of evaluating proposals for the preliminary engineering contract for Southwest LRT with a recommendation to the Met Council targeted for mid-March.
I’ll give ’em points for speed. But it didn’t really answer the question.
Let’s leave aside for a moment whether the SWLRT is a good idea (although it’s not); With the collapse of so much civil and government infrastructure work, local civil engineering firms are hurting; those firms employ a lot of good people. At least one local firm was counted out of the race to work on the new LRT project, while San Francisco’s URS, with its record of failure on local projects, is apparently still in the running.
Why is the Dayton Administration denying work to local firms in favor of a San Francisco firm with two strikes against it in local civil engineering circles?
I’ll try the Met Council again later today, to see if they want the public to know what firms are in, what firms are out, and where they’re from.