Breaking: Horrific bridge collapse in Minneapolis; Update: Steel failure? Update: Seven dead?

posted at 7:56 pm on August 1, 2007 by Allahpundit

I’ve got nothing yet but photos, but there’s not much more to add. Estimates are 20-30 injured, eight cars and possibly one truck in the water. Standby for updates.

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Update: It happened a little after six, in the heart of rush hour. The Strib:

Ramon Houge of St. Paul, was on his way home from work at Wells Fargo and was driving on the bridge when heard a rumbling noise, saw the ground collapse and cars go down. He said cars backed up as best they could and he parked in a construction zone and was finally able to turn around and drive off the bridge. “It didn’t seem like it was real,” he said. Traffic was bumper to bumper and hundreds of people would have been involved, he said, adding that he saw kids on a bus with blood on their faces.

Sarah Fahnhorst, who lives in an apartment a block away from the bridge, heard a huge thud and then “the entire building shook. It shook the ground.”

Update: Two more screencaps.

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Update: No word yet on a cause but Dan Riehl points to a story about “concrete rehabilitation” work that was being done on the bridge.

Update: Reader Pete L. send this shot, which he says was taken by a friend passing by on his Blackberry.

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Update: Your quote of the day: “I thought it was just construction going on … it was a free fall all the way to the ground.”

Update: Oddly, enough the Times of London has the first report of fatalities. At least two dead.

Update: “According to reports from the scene, crews on the Mississippi River are no longer in rescue mode but recovery mode.” According to NBC, every last ambulance in Minneapolis has been ordered to the scene. NBC also says that work along that stretch of the bridge has been going on all summer.

Update: Three dead, at least, says CNN.

Update: Hmmm:

Bumper to bumper traffic and road construction were slowing things down and all of the sudden the bridge collapsed said a man who was in that traffic around 6:00.

That motorist told Joe Fryer that there was shaking from jack hammer and then the bridge just dropped.

Update: “According to a structural engineer who spoke with WCCO-TV’s Don Shelby, it doesn’t appear to be a concrete failure but that the steel failed.” A former NTSB commissioner is telling Sean Hannity as I write this that he’s surprised the bridge hasn’t been inspected since 2004. WCCO has now updated to say that while work has been going on for the past nine months to repair potholes and concrete, there’s been no work on the structure under the bridge.

Update: The Strib reports that no fewer than 50 cars are estimated as being in the river or on the land below the bridge.

Update: Another photo from Pete L. That used to be a train car.

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Update: The Times, by way of CNN, says one of the cops on the scene saw at least seven bodies. Also, interesting:

A 2001 evaluation of the bridge, prepared for the state transportation department by the University of Minnesota Civil Engineering Department, reported that there were preliminary signs of fatigue on the steel truss section under the roadway, but no cracking. It said there was no need for the transportation department to replace the bridge because of fatigue cracking.

Update: WCCO’s got a crack page of rolling updates here. To coin a phrase, just keep scrolling.


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Except the weight of concrete hasn’t changed drastically in the past 50 or so years. If anything, we’ve developed new ways to find high-strength, light-weight concrete…..Hootie on August 3, 2007 at 9:03 AM

All well and good but the air entrained (light weight) concrete you refer to is used mostly in commercial roofing aplications and would be too soft to withstand the rigors that a road surface has to withstand. The removal and replacement of road surface such as asphalt and concrete is a relatively new technique in light of the age of the span in question. The concern is if only one layer was placed over the existing roadway without removing the existing surface the loads multiply exponentially.

sonnyspats1 on August 3, 2007 at 1:08 PM

You call that a bridge. Thats not a bridge This is a bridge. Benjamin Franklin Bridge from the Jersey side (east)circa:1952 My DOB. A few years later (7) I attended St.Mary’s Catholic Grammer school and would cross this roadway daily at its widest point for the next five years. I like bridges.

sonnyspats1 on August 3, 2007 at 1:34 PM

“Steel Failure”? What a load of crap! I have it on very good authority that steel cannot fail – it’s totally impervious to everything except Repuglickin Bu$Hitler-placed high-explosive charges. Someone call Rosie to shed some light on this Rovian coverup!

xardoz on August 3, 2007 at 2:37 PM

Here is may theory and it,s hinged on salt.
If they use salt during the winter,is it possible
the salt over time weakened the steel.The steel was
formed into the cement.At that point were the steel and
cement came together and again over time,and continuous
weight and say vibration it became a ticking time bomb.
What kind of water run off was designed,was there an
expansion joint above the cement and steel structure were the salt and water could collect and wrought away.
If they say two-thirds of the weight were on the bridge that day and you look at the video,all that dust in the first few seconds to me is cement dust.
It looks like to me with the weight and wroughting cement
and steel combination it became the perfect storm.
That’s why one end came down then the next,the steel
simple pulled away from the cement.
Don,t forget it was a catostrophic event.Thats if they used
salt.

canopfor on August 3, 2007 at 3:12 PM

Different salts are used on bridges in Minnesota. Some are chlorides, others not. They are generally sprayed on in liquid form to keep black ice from forming.

RedKnight on August 3, 2007 at 5:13 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3