Wednesday, August 01, 2007

35 W Bridge Collapse - A Real Catastrophe 

Many of you have seen the footage on television. A major artery over the Mississippi River from downtown Mpls. to the northern suburbs collapsed towards the end of rush hour today. The Pioneer Press has details and photos. The Star Tribune paper also has an online article.

All sections of the country have their natural disaster risks. A structural collapse like this, though, is totally unexpected. We take for granted that everything we build will withstand whatever. This bridge is relatively new, 30 years old. There will be much studying - we will need to understand why a calamity of this magnitude occurred. The Department of Transportation is on site and will be able to investigate as long as the predicted thunderstorms stay away.

In all disasters, though, the human spirit comes through. People got out of their cars to help others who were more frightened or injured. Those with boats on the Mississippi River launched them to rescue people caught in the water. US Internet opened their WI-FI network so people could contact others. We have heard the phone lines are jammed but internet providers appear to be handling their respective traffic. This is a good way to check with friends and family. We have heard from relatives and friends outside MN via the Internet - it's nice to know that you are remembered.

We will learn more in the next few days but it is very difficult to comprehend something like this happening. For the Twin Cities, the impact will be substantial - it is one of the few ways to access downtown Minneapolis from most of the northern suburbs. And, for those who will have lost family and friend, our sympathies go out to you.

KING ADDS (11;30pm): Using this map, I see the bridge takes 140,000 trips per day, about 10% less than the I-94 bridge there. To put that in perspective for St. Clouders, the most travel on I-94 into the Cities and out, around the Rogers area, tops out at less than half that.

The Twins not only have canceled all activities for tomorrow, they also are contemplating canceling games against Cleveland for the weekend. Those of us living to the west of the Cities don't realize how much traffic goes to the Dome via 35W.

I was out golfing tonight with a 6:20 tee time (my evening league) and had no idea what had happened even after reaching the clubhouse. They had turned the game on because they had watched TV reports and had reached diminishing returns to viewing the news. James' posts on Buzz have been helpful, as has Captain Ed.