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New I-35W bridge to open next week

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(AP) - The new Interstate 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis is set to open sometime next week.

      The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other officials will appear Monday to announce the specific opening time.

      The bridge could be open to traffic as early as next Tuesday.

MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht says there are a batch of finishing and testing tasks to be performed. 

"The median barrier, the concrete wall or barrier that's on the insides of the roadways, needs to be completed. We're installing expansion joints, we're painting the bridge," said Gutknecht. "We're testing various electrical systems on the bridge, the lights, the smart bridge technology systems, the anti-icing system, and there's some landscaping work that's taking place as well."

The bridge building consortium, Flatiron Manson, is being paid $235 million for the project, plus as much as $27 million in bonus money for finishing the bridge early.  

      Crews began working on the new bridge Nov. 1 of last year. The old I-35W bridge collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13. Details on the investigation into what caused the collapse are expected in November.

             (The Associated Press contributed to this report)