URS Corporation will pay US$ 52.4 million to settle claims against it relating to the collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis/St. Paul on 1 August 2007. This money, along with payments from a contractor and the state of Minnesota, will see some US$ 100 million paid out to the families of the 13 people killed in the collapse, and the 145 survivors.
URS was employed by the state of Minnesota to inspect the condition of its bridges, including the I-35W structure. An investigation by the National Transport Safety Board found the collapse had been caused by failures in gusset plates that were used to connect truss sections together.
The plates were found to be under-sized in some cases, and it was the failure to spot this that led to a court action being launched last year against URS. The trail was scheduled to start in early 2011, and could have seen URS pay punitive damages to victims.
A statement from URS said, "The I-35W bridge collapse was a tragedy, which the National Transportation Safety Board concluded was caused by a design flaw, compounded by large weight increases from upgrade projects over the years, and the traffic and construction loads on the day the bridge collapsed.
"URS was not involved in the design or building of the bridge, not was it involved in any of the later construction work, including the resurfacing work being done when the bridge collapsed. URS believes it is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders to resolve this matter and avoid the cost and distraction of protracted litigation. The settlement amount of US$ 52.4 million will be paid in full by the company's insurers."