Monday, August 6, 2007

Bridge collapse

(taken from a spur road down from University Ave, of the north part of the bridge)
On Sunday afternoon, under the guise of getting a MN gazeteer from Midwest Mountaineering, I borrowed Ilana's bike and rode over to the Seven Corners region, which is just west of the collapsed I35W bridge. I had expected to spend a half an hour in that area to get a glimpse, and instead spent 3 hours on a slow, stunned 360 tour of the area. They had just reopened the stone arch bridge to the public, which is the first bridge north of I35W. And it was packed with people. In fact, the whole circuit was packed with people and I was extremely glad I had a bike. Around the time that I reached the Guthrie, just before crossing the stone arch, the Twins game let out, so many folks used the opportunity to come see what there was to see. Some people were visibly shocked, some upset, some quiet and some behaved like it was some kind of circus show. A lot of my photos will look just like the media photos; if you travel the circuit from seven corners to stone arch, then south down the east side of the U of M campus and back across the washington Ave bridge, you get all the vantage points available, which aren't many. Absolutely everything is roped off with police tape and many of the smaller U of M pedestrian bridges are closed. But those vantage points are plenty.

Taken from a parking garage in seven corners toward the north side of the bridge. The cars are all on the southbound side of the bridge, and the bridge in the background with traffic on it is University Ave.
The north part of the bridge on the river. It is a little hard to see, but the structure in front is a part of the locks system for the ship traffic on the river. I don't know how much/if any damage the locks sustained, but the bridge JUST missed taking out the locks too.
The media circus on University Ave, near the entrance ramp to I35W southbound.
The amazing thing about this scene, to me, is how the road looks like silly putty, when you stretch it then twist it. Except that all of that is concrete and steel.
The whole scene was really hard to look at and hard to not look at. It also amazes me, especially after seeing it, that the collapse didn't kill more people. The potential was there to do so much more damage, both in terms of lives and infrastructure, so I guess that is something to be grateful for, but it will be a long clean-up.

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