Thursday, August 2, 2007

Minnesota Tragedy—35W Bridge Collapses over Mississippi!

I have traveled over the 35W Bridge into Minneapolis countless times since receiving my drivers license decades ago. When I worked in Edina in the south metro, I commuted from North St. Paul on a daily basis over that bridge. I have been stuck in rush hour traffic inching along that stretch of roadway. As of late, it has only been the periodic trip to Minneapolis for a Twins game or visit to the Guthrie Theater that has had my family on that bridge. Knowing that the Minnesota Twins have a 7:05 start time at the Metrodome, no doubt that the traffic snarl included families headed to a fun evening.

Fortunately, my family was home at 6 pm Wednesday evening. My son and husband were contemplating setting up the pitching machine for a batting practice to get ready for the state baseball tournament this weekend. But as we heard rumbles of thunder and the sky turned dark, I went inside to catch the news for a weather radar map to give us an indication of whether or not we would be getting a much needed rain shower. At first it was just a breaking news note that part of the 35W Bridge collapsed over the Mississippi and updates would follow. I went out to tell my family not to set up the machine as we were in for a storm. And I think they just said that part of 35 had collapsed over the river by Washington Avenue. (It just didn't seem real to me yet.)

When I got back inside to see if they had additional reports. The news helicopters were showing the first pictures of the area. As there were so few vehicles visible, the initial reports were of light traffic on the bridge. There must not have been a baseball game was my inital thought. The reporters noted that it was the tail end of rush hour.
Soon interviews from the survivors painted a different picture with bumper to bumper traffic moving at 10 mph across a bridge with no where to go. When the reporters said that the Twins game was going to continue as scheduled to avoid sending additional vehicles into an already crowded and confused scene, my heart sunk. This was a worst case scenario!

What a tragedy! I know if we had Twins tickets we would have been on that bridge in that traffic along with the hundred or so other vehicles affected. I am proud to be a Minnesotan as so many good Samaritans came from everywhere to assist those in need on the bridge without a thought to their own safety. Now, though thankful that my family is safe, I my thoughts and prayers are with those victims and survivors of this tragic event.