04 August 2007

The Bridge in Minneapolis

The other night just as we were setting down to eat my older brother Jesse called to tell me about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. He was seeing it on all the TV stations. We had to check on the Internet to see what the story was.

I rode on that bridge countless times. It is not very far from where the University is and where I lived is only downriver from it on Lake Street. You can see it here. The 35W bridge is just above the yellow arrow. The bridge on Interstate 94 that I went across almost everyday that I lived in Minnesota is down river (my apartment building was just at the end of the shield with the number 94 in it, north of Lake Street. I was only a block from the Lake Street Bridge. For awhile before I moved the Lake Street Bridge was so dangerous that buses had to stop at the edge of the bridge, unload their passengers into little vans, and then have the passengers taken across the bridge to be picked up by another bus. The span, a beautiful old steel bridge, was replaced with a new concrete hulk, one that looks very much like the marvel of modern engineering that went down.

At least the death toll seems much smaller than was originally thought. Given how awful it looks it is hard to believe. One young man who was on the school bus is being hailed as a hero because he helped all the young children get out. It was from one of the more ethnic and poorer neighborhood summer school and returning from a day at the lake, I think.

Here is a picture of 35W on a normal day. You can see how big it is and how much traffic was on it for it to be bumper to bumper as it was when the bridge went down.

It gave me a funny feeling to hear all the old Minnesota voices and to see how they were coping. I saw some videos of eyewitnesses and I have to believe Minnesotans took it more calmly than most other places would have. That old Scandinavian/Lutheran grit I guess, although the young hero is named Hernandez.


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