An Appalling Catastrophe

A little while ago, the Mississippi River Bridge on Highway 35W in downtown Minneapolis collapsed into the river. 35W is the main artery that runs through the Twin Cities; I’ve crossed that bridge hundreds if not thousands of times. One of my brothers-in-law crossed it four times today. From news footage, it looks as though the whole bridge collapsed, more or less in one piece, into the river; there was footage of people walking around on the fallen bridge next to their cars. People have taken their boats onto the river to rescue victims in the water.
This is a relatively new highway; I think the bridge is around 30 years old. There is construction underway on Highway 35. One hopes that didn’t contribute to the disaster. This is certainly not an earthquake zone.
This is the kind of disaster that just doesn’t happen in the United States–a bridge spontaneously collapsing, apparently, into a river. It is hard to convey to those who don’t live here the astonishment of this sort of catastrophe happening on our most traveled highway.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has more.
UPDATE: This video shows the scene well.



Thanks to all who have expressed their concern about our families’ well-being.
UPDATE: Much attention is being paid, naturally, to the construction that was going on in the area of the bridge. For some time, traffic has been down to one or two lanes in, I think, both directions. My understanding, though, is that the work was relatively superficial resurfacing. Traffic was heavy, stop and go, at the time of the collapse, in part because of traffic heading for the nearby Twins game. Casualties are not yet known, but so far it seems that they are lighter than might have been feared. I believe there are six confirmed dead so far.
MORE: This photo of the bridge, pre-collapse, is courtesy of Texas Rainmaker.
SEE FURTHER UPDATE here.
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