After Atlanta collapse, MNDOT says interstate fire unlikely to happen here

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials believe a situation similar to the Atlanta interstate collapse is unlikely to happen here.

Investigators believe a homeless man set a fire that spread to construction materials being stored under the bridge, which caused it to collapse last week.

Georgia’s Transportation Commissioner revealed the materials, which were primarily plastic utility conduits, had been stored there for several years to save taxpayer money after a construction project.

“Honestly this is a construction material that nobody would assume that somebody is going to ignite on fire and cause this kind of catastrophe,” said Russell McMurray, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We certainly will be looking at things to make sure that we never have a catastrophic event like this again, nothing is off the table.”

McMurray sent a letter warning his counterparts across the country about the situation in Atlanta, so they can review their own policies about storage.

A MNDOT spokesperson told Fox 9 that the agency does not make a habit of storing construction materials long-term under overpasses. Contractors will often store materials on a short term basis but are supposed to remove them when the project is over.

The climate in Minnesota also precludes long-term outdoor storage of construction materials.

Fox 9 spotted debris and construction materials under Interstates 94 and 394 near Downtown Minneapolis. With projects in the area expected to last for many more months, motorists may see the material for some time.

MNDOT stresses even the amount of material there is relatively small, and nowhere near the massive amounts stored under the overpass in Atlanta.