It wasn't until we arrived at home that we learned the entire bridge had gone down. The toll stands at seven dead, with 60 injured - six critically. (Photo WCCO)
We have been in contact with everyone we know well and, luckily, no one was on the bridge. Tom D. drove over it earlier in the day, but took 280 home because of the construction headaches on the 35W bridge. Kathy B.'s nephew drove over it, coming home from the "U," about one minute before collapse.
Noah at Blanked Out answers one question we had earlier tonight: "Description of collapse: Surprisingly quiet, but my entire warehouse apt shook quite a bit. Bridge fell so very slowly - poof." Noah, it appears, is likely to emerge as one of the heroes in the tragedy. He also has taken some amazing photos.
Of course, no one is talking about it yet as tragic events continue to unfold, but I can't help but wonder what MNDOT plans to do tomorrow and in the days ahead. The 35W bridge carried in excess of 140,000 cars a day; it is quite literally a lynch pin in the metro traffic grid.
It has been yanked.
UPDATE: It didn't take long for a commenter at MNspeak to start making political hay out of the tragedy:
There's some blood on Governor Pawlenty's and legislators' hands who haven't provided necessary funding for fixing bridges and roads, or Veterans Homes . . .
»» Submitted by dogbreath at 11:13 PM on August 1
Oh brother. DailyKos is a cornucopia of conspiracy theory:
Phil S.: Unfortunately, more of these kinds of things will continue to happen as all our monies have gone to the war effort; leaving nothing to take care of infrastructure, and other issues at home.
Fireflynw: Rove and Co. should be made to go down and help
Jjc2006: Greed, incompetence and knowing that no matter how much the corporation is fined for shoddy work, or breaking the rules or using cheap material, they make enough profit to say "so what." Then when the levees give way, the mine collapses on itself, the communication equipment fails, the bridges collapse, we can thank the Regan for his deregulation, and the corporate world for its greed.
holocron: Is now the wrong time to mention how Pawlenty used a VETO to kill a Transit and Infrastructure bill in Minnesota?
The Raven: Yes - we had an extra trillion laying around. President Prissypants used it to inflame the mideast and create a generation of people who want us dead. That money was needed to protect us here at home. It still is. If there's any saving grace to this, it will be that this is a wake up call that gets widely heard.
Bluetide: That's what you get with Republican rule. Infrastructure erodes and bridges start collapsing for the sake of lower taxes.
philandrel: And That Mother F'n Pawlenty kept opposing increased spending on the public infrastructure in Minnesota because he'd have to raise taxes on the wealthy. That dirty rotten SOB!
Let's not leave out global warming:
CarrieICL: Second, believe me, this is going to be infrastructure delays + global warming = disaster. It has been over 90 degrees here for most of the last two months, when ten years ago, it would only be 15 days over 90 a year. These bridges were not designed to deal with long term heat.
Don't these people ever give it a rest?