The following set of posts relates to a class project for Public Policy 715.
Four of the twenty-one articles published in the August 2nd issue of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the most widely circulated paper in the Twin Cities area are reprinted here. The first is a nuts-and-bolts report with facts highlighted. The second is one that shows the true emotional magnitude of the event to the local
Writer: Paul Levy
Headline: BUCKLING AND SWAYING, THEN `DOWN, DOWN, DOWN';
Crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic, I-35W bridge plunged into the
An ordinary evening rush hour turned horrific Wednesday when the Interstate 35W bridge that spans the Mississippi River in
Nine people were confirmed dead, 60 were taken to hospitals and 20 people were still missing late Wednesday night. Authorities said they expected the death toll to rise.
Between 50 and 60 vehicles were on the bridge when it went down shortly after 6 p.m., authorities said. Legions of rescue workers and volunteers swarmed to the scene and spent hours sifting through the wreckage in a frantic search for survivors.
"This is a catastrophe of historic proportions for
By late in the evening, officials said efforts at the
Jay Danz, 45, of
"I heard it creaking and making all sorts of noises it shouldn't make," Danz said. "And then the bridge just started to fall apart."
In addition to the cars that went into the water, a school bus carrying about 60 Minneapolis children fell from the bridge, landing on all four of its tires and missing the water as it came to rest near the parkway.
Several of the children and at least two adults were treated for injuries after the group escaped through the back door of the bus.
"Some kids had blood on their faces, but thank God everybody could move," Danz said.
The cause of the collapse wasn't known in the hours afterward. It's too soon to know what happened, said Catherine E. Wolfgram French, a civil engineering professor at the
"Things can happen with temperature, and with construction, or a lot of other confounding factors," French said.
This was a 40-year-old truss bridge, and French did say that some early truss bridges don't have as many structural redundancies - backups to carry the loads - as is now considered desirable.
Another engineer, Michael Ramerth, a principal at MBJ Consulting Structural Engineers in
On a typical weekday, more than 100,000 cars use the bridge.
Berndt Toivonen, 51, of
"The bridge started to buckle," Toivonen said. "It went up and came down. I thought I was going to die."
What people in the area of the collapse experienced or saw at about 6:05 p.m. unfolded as motorists crawled bumper to bumper across I-35W toward the end of rush hour.
Those on the bridge felt buckling and swaying and heard a crunching.
Then came the unthinkable: The 40-year-old bridge collapsed, dumping vehicles into the water and onto land below. That was followed by scenes of frantic, bloodied motorists and rescuers who converged on the scene.
Many vehicles, including at least one semitrailer, were on fire. People were reported to be floundering in the river. Rescuers rushed to help people escape cars trapped in the V-shaped hollow where the bridge had caved in.
The school bus that fell was, returning from a day-camp swimming trip sponsored by a Waite House summer program.
"We collapsed," said Ryan Watkins, one of the children.
Crumpled wreckage lay on the east bank of the river, and a huge section of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Down below in the river gorge, rescue workers scrambled to help people get out of the water.
Fire and black smoke rose from the wreckage.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff issued a statement Wednesday night saying there was no indication of terrorism.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters was scheduled to fly to the Twin Cities early this morning, along with Sens. Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar.
Workers on the bridge
About 20 construction workers employed by Progressive Contractors Inc. were about to begin night shift work on the bridge when it collapsed, company officials said.
The company has been working on a repair project for about six weeks, said Mike McGray, president of the company. Progressive is based in
In 1990 a construction worker fell 90 feet to his death when a concrete arch span on the
Construction workers had been repairing the bridge's surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate. There were a large number of construction workers who went into the water, said Maj. Michael Asleson of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Most of the injured were taken to
Nine people were taken to
A staging area for the injured was set up near the
Marcelo Cruz, 26, of
He steered into the concrete railing to stop himself from driving into the river, and saw many cars on the bridge fall into the water.
His van came to rest steeply inclined toward the river and several onlookers ran and told him to get out. He said he needed help and the onlookers carried him out of his van in his wheelchair to safety on the riverbank.
"I'm lucky to be alive," he said over and over again.
Peter Siddons, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, was heading north over the bridge toward his home to
"I saw this rolling of the bridge," he said. "It kept collapsing, down, down, down until it got to me."
Siddons' car dropped with the bridge, and its nose rolled into the car in front of him and stopped.
He got out of his car, jumped over the crevice between the highway lanes and crawled up the steeply tilted section of bridge to land, where he jumped to the ground.
"I thought I was dead," he said. "Honestly, I honestly did. I thought it was over."
Ramon Houge of
He said cars that could backed up, turned around and drove toward safety.
Baseball game added to congestion
Danz said there were cars behind him on
John Joachim of
"I didn't know what was going on but a huge cloud of dust rose in front of us," he said.
After the game, traffic were being rerouted away from the collapse, routes that also were being used by theater patrons leaving the Guthrie.
This afternoon's Twins game has been postponed, along with scheduled groundbreaking ceremonies for the new baseball park that had been scheduled for this evening.
`Five feet from the edge'
Louis Rogers, 28, of
"It just disappeared; it made no sound whatsoever," he said. "It was pretty much like a thud, not too loud of a thud. The next thing I know, cars were dropping and there was smoke. My car was no more than five feet from the edge."
"I saw a lady in a car and I screamed, but I got no response," he said. "I grabbed my bag and started signaling cars to get out of there."
Ryan Murphey, 30, of
"It looked like a terrorist attack, a complete catastrophe," Murphey said. "But everyone there was very calm and organized."
He helped remove two victims from the east side of the bridge on stretchers, including a woman in her late 50s with a "bloody face."
The Twins decided to play Wednesday night's game, but only after the public address announcer alerted the crowd at 7:08 p.m. of the bridge's collapse. A moment of prayer followed. It was then announced that the game would go on so emergency crews could perform their duties without the added pressure of having 20,000 to 25,000 people scrambling in swarms from the Dome area.
Area law enforcement, including the
"Unbelievable," said Audrey Glassman of
Staff writers Curt Brown, Tim Campbell, Joe Christensen, Terry Collins, H.J. Cummins, Kevin Duchschere, Tom Ford, Kevin Giles, Pat Lopez, Maura Lerner, Bill McAuliffe, Pamela Miller, Claude Peck, Joy Powell, James Shiffer, Jim Foti and Doug Tice contributed to this story, which was written by Paul Levy.
Date: August 2, 2007 Thursday
Headline: A `castrophe of historic proportions'; A bridge collapses;
a community responds.
Text: It will be some time before the losses from Wednesday's disaster are counted. What we can see now is a moment of crisis in the life of our city and state. It is a cliche because it is true: This moment we will remember for the rest of our lives. As Gov. Tim Pawlenty described it, it was "a catastrophe of historic proportions for
Television anchors and radio reporters tried to avoid comparisons to 9/11, but there was no use. The collapse of the
But then a community in shock came together. The call went out for blood donations, and the response is sure to be strong. Authorities asked area residents to avoid travel and cell-phone use. As TV screens showed video of rescue efforts in progress, rescuers showed a heroism that may be a day's work for them, but is amazing to us. Medical teams responded expertly. Members of Congress issued statements. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Police Chief Tim Dolan and Pawlenty spoke with authority on television. Text on the screen labeled Pawlenty as "R-Minnesota." On this night, both identifiers were unnecessary.
There will be more for everyone to do. For now, none of us can know with certainty that we did not lose friends yesterday. To those who are mourning a loss, the community will show support and solidarity.
Some in the news business had been complaining lately about the lack of news. They spoke of the dog days. Yesterday we learned once more that everything can change in an instant, and that to lament a slow news day is a sin.
Text: 35W Bridge Collapse; Snapshot of a disaster
Shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in
1. Bridge work, part of a summer-long
2. Lane closures in each direction force bumper-to-bumper traffic to about 10 miles per hour.
3. About 6:05 p.m., the bridge's center span directly over the river collapses.
4. Both ends, no longer connected to the center span, tip away from the river, causing secondary sections to collapse in sequence.
5. Dozens of vehicles fall into the river or are crushed between bridge sections. About 50 children are evacuated from a stranded school bus. At about 6:20 p.m., a semitrailer truck and later a pickup truck ignite.
6. Triage staging areas are set up at both ends of the bridge. Blood banks call for donations. Regional hospitals go on orange alert. The nearby Stone Arch pedestrian bridge is used by emergency vehicles. Water rescue boats, hundreds of paramedics and 25 emergency doctors arrive on the scene.
Source: Star Tribune reporting; news reports; photo by Pictometry International
Byline: Laurie Blake, Staff Writer
Headline: I-35W Bridge Collapse; A TRAFFIC NIGHTMARE; Solutions to help your commute
The missing piece of
The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced early Thursday that Hwy. 280 will be the primary route to replace the closed section of 35W. Hwy. 280 will be converted to a temporary freeway with no stoplights, meaning access to and from Broadway Av. and County Road B will be closed.
Traffic heading toward downtown
Another option: AAA Minneapolis suggests that drivers coming from the north and northeast suburbs take Interstate 694 to eastbound I-94 into
Expanded bus service:
Metro Transit announced that it would add 25 extra buses from 6 to 9 a.m. from north metro park-and-ride locations to downtown
Commuters can catch these buses at the park-and-ride lots at:
- Foley Boulevard in
- Maplewood Mall, near Beam and Southlawn Avenues, served by Route 270.
At these locations, Metro Transit staff will be available to assist new riders. Additional service will also be added in the afternoon.
For more information:
- Check the agency's website at metrotransit.org or call 612-373-3333 from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
- The city of