A week after the the collapse of the I-35W Bridge, I made out to Minneapolis and trekked down with Publisher Joan Kelly and savvy guide and colleague Joe Hoopes to the adjacent Stone Arch Bridge. That’s the historic former railroad bridge turned pedestrian walkway spanning the Mississippi to link downtown Minneapolis with the east side of town. It’s about a quarter of mile upriver (north) from the I-35 Bridge and was full of gawkers like us. One could see the upturned substructure on the east side and I managed to get 200 yards closer by the Stone Arch Apartments to police line next to the east side of the bridge. Cars were still astrewn on the bridge and a hapless railway car was still crushed underneath that section of the span. A crane had been brought in in collapse roadway deck in the middle of the river.
I shot about 50 photos many of which I will shortly post. There are from some distance and the dam superstructure obscured the view of the west side spans roadway that collapsed mostly over land. I could not help but ponder the loss of life had it been 20 degrees below zero, had the Mississippi been running at full tilt in spring, had it happened at night, had there been no construction meaning the bridge would have been open to three lanes each way or had cars had been doing 70 over the bridge instead of being stuck in rush hour traffic. The loss of life is tragic but could have been much, much worse. Many area residents are reporting they felt the bridge sway sideways when they crossed it in the couple of weeks preceding the collapse. And finger pointing is beginning bigtime right up to the Minnestoa Gov. Tim Pawlenty.