National geographic documentary features Tallahassee-based Figg design

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By Dave hodges, 1/5/2009

AThe National Geographic Channel will present a program tonight at 8 on the rebuilding of the Interstate 35 West bridge in Minneapolis, a project of Tallahassee-based Figg Bridge Engineers Inc.

The hour-long documentary will trace the rebuilding effort from concept to completion. The bridge, which spans the Mississippi River, collapsed during the afternoon rush hour Aug. 1, 2007. It was a steel truss arch bridge built completed in 1967 and was Minnesota's fifth busiest in terms of daily vehicle traffic.

"The I-35 West bridge project was a true testament to what people can do when they work together. In my mind, it was a monumental success," said Kevin Gutknecht, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

He credited the design-build team for the $234 million project's success and the fact it was finished three months early.

Figg was a member of a design-build joint venture that included Flatiron Constructors Inc., Manson Construction Co. and Johnson Bros.

"The nation's aging infrastructure was brought into sharp focus in 2007 by the I-35W tragedy," said Linda Figg, president and CEO of the renowned bridge-design firm. "The Minneapolis Department of Transportation was responsive to the needs of its citizens and should be recognized for their leadership and vision that led to the success of the project."

The Tallahassee firm was the prime engineering consultant responsible for managing all the engineering and for the design of the bridge, which is a 10-lane structure with drilled-shaft foundations and precast concrete spans, the longest 504 feet. It is also equipped with "smart bridge" technology that includes sensors embedded in the concrete so that engineers can monitor the effects of weight, temperature and other stresses.