The announcement was praised by several members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation including Sen. Norm Coleman, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Jim Oberstar. The funding is the second installment of federal money that will go to rebuild the bridge. To date, the federal government has appropriated $177 million for the bridge.
Coleman said he and Klobuchar will work to deliver another promised $195 million.
"The bottom line is it's going to be there" Coleman said.
The news comes just three months after the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. Thirteen people died and more than 100 were injured.
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Construction crews on Thursday started the major work to rebuild the bridge. They drilled a test shaft 112 feet to see how deep they have to dig to support the weight of the new $234 million concrete box-girder bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the construction team of Flatiron/Manson allowed reporters on the site to see the work.
Jon Chiglo, project manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the day is significant.
"It's really letting people know that we're going to move forward and we're confident that we're going to meet the schedule," he said.
Flatiron has promised to finish the bridge by December 24th, 2008. There are $27 million in incentives if the team finishes earlier.
Peter Sanderson, project manager for Flatiron/Manson, said there about 40 workers on the site right now. He said there will be as many as 600 people working on the site during the busiest times during the Spring. He said one potential problem for crews will be the weather. He said they will take extra precautions to protect workers from windy conditions and extremely cold temperatures.
"You'll see major foundations being poured in January," Sanderson said. "By February through March you'll see the piers coming up back up to the deck level and by March you'll see the work for the revised superstructure of the bridge," he said.
In total, the amount of concrete needed for the bridge is the equivalent of building eight miles of two lane concrete road.