Dayton: Minn. should cut ties to bridge consultant

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton wants the state to end all contracts with a transportation firm that advised the state on the Interstate 35W bridge.

Dayton said he's appalled that the state of Minnesota is still hiring URS as a consultant, even though victims of the bridge collapse are suing the firm. The state of Minnesota also settled a lawsuit with the firm in March.

Dayton said he doesn't think the state should be working with a firm that he says was "negligent" in its duties of inspecting the bridge.

"All Minnesotans would be outraged by this," Dayton said. "And the fact then that when it came to light that MnDOT has awarded 47 contracts subsequent to the bridge's collapse, including contracts for the work on the bridge itself related to the bridge itself, including $9 million, I just find to be an outrage."

Dayton said if he's elected, he would sign an executive order ending all contracts with URS if the state doesn't act before then.

In an email, MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said no one had made a determination that URS was at fault.

"Until there is a finding of wrongdoing, Mn/DOT is legally obligated to provide URS the same opportunity to bid on contracts as it provides to all other organizations that bid for business with Mn/DOT," Gutknecht said. "We need to let the legal process play out."

Officials with URS didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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