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Thursday, August 02, 2007

I-35 Bridge Collapse Update

The I-35W bridge is a main artery into downtown Minneapolis. The bridge, being an integral part of Interstate 35, was also a main bypass route of the city.

Here is what we know as of right now, 3:55 PM Thursday, August 2:

The bridge collapsed around 6:05 PM Central Daylight Time. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper prior to the collapse.

4 people are confirmed dead although early reports stated the number as 7. Approximately 80 injured and 20 people still are missing or unaccounted for.

People near the bridge report hearing a deafening rumbling noise prior to the collapse, similar to a earthquake rumble or booming crash. Terrorism?

The bridge is 40-years old, built in 1967 and is said to have a 70-year life span. It was 64 feet above the Mississippi River. This was not an "old" bridge.

50 vehicles are reported to be in the Mississippi River.

The bridge is not - I repeat, is not - near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as some have erroneously reported.

Cosmetic repair, joint and guardrail work along with road and concrete resurfacing was being done on the bridge.

Work was also being performed on freeway and bridge lights.

The bridge was a single arch bridge with pylon supports on its north and south side. The bridge has no center pylon under the bridge itself. I-beams and trusses on both the north and south sides are bent, buckled or twisted.

Bridge Facts: (1)

Bridge ID Number: 9360

Type: Three spans of steel arch deck truss and 11 approach spans.

Designed: In-house by the Minnesota Department of Transportation

Opened: November 1967

Width: 108 feet, 8 traffic lanes

Length: 1,907 feet; main span: 458 feet; channel span: 390 feet

Maximum height above the water: 64 feet

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation the bridge passed inspections in 2006 and 2005. No structural defects were found. Do I need to repeat that for the Liberals who are blaming Republicans? No structural defects were found.

Here is what we don't know:

If the cosmetic repair work and the structural integrity isn't to blame for its collapse, if the traffic on the bridge at the time of its collapse is not to blame...how in the hell can the Department of Homeland Security rule out terrorism so early in the investigation?

This story was the lead story for the BBC half-hour worldwide news. BBC anchor Alistair Yates mistakenly called Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, "the Governor of Minneapolis." To his credit, later in the broadcast Yates corrected his faux pas.

Amy Klobuchar, Democrat U.S. Senator elected in November, 2006 - barely three hours after its collapse - made references to Minnesota's infrastructure. Just couldn't wait - chomping at the bit - to inflect her Liberal political ideology into a tragedy.

It is likely to be a good two years before a new bridge is completed. In the meantime, traffic in and around Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs is going to be a nightmare.


(1) St. Paul Pioneer Press


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