What I saw was unbelievable. A bridge had collapsed over the Mississippi. I asked Michelle where this had happened and I was shocked when she told me that it happened just a few minutes drive from where I work.
Construction on the interstate 35w bridge over the Mississippi between Minneapolis and St Paul began back in 1964. It was completed and opened in 1967.
Forty years later, at approximately 6:05 PM on August 1st, 2007, it came crashing down.
The central span of the bridge was the first to give way, followed by the adjoining spans. The center sections plunged around 100' down into the Mississippi River below. Over 100 cars and 18 construction workers fell along with the bridge. Thirteen people lost their life in the disaster and around 150 people were injured.
One of the north sections of the bridge fell down on to a railway yard that was below it squashing railroad cars like an empty soda can.
The reason that officials have given for the disaster is faulty gusset plates on the bridge, although some people also believe that construction that was currently being done on the bridge deck may also have contributed to the collapse.
I took these shots the following day. It was a very sobering experience to look down at the twisted bridge deck and the cars that were torn, tipped and smashed. The school bus in the first pictures became an important part of the national news story as the exploits of a man who heroically helped the kids out of the bus became a silver lining to this tragic story.
One of the guys who I work with came over the bridge every morning and evening and had gone over it shortly after 5pm that day on his way home. Now he travels over the new bridge which has one up in its place.
The new bridge was completed on September 18th, 2008 less then a year after construction began. I took this photo from out my window as I was getting on the freeway to cross over the bridge. This was the first time that I have driven over the new bridge and it was kind of strange thinking about what happened a year and a half earlier as I drove across. I have never liked traveling over high bridges, as a kid I had nightmares about it, but since 2007 the tragedy always crosses my mind when I head out over a bridge.