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It’s Been 10 Years Since the Deadly I-35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis

The Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007.

The Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

But “almost nothing has been done in this country to keep it from happening again,” according to former Mayor R.T. Ryback.

Flags stood at half-staff on Monday across Minnesota to mark the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, an event that killed 13 people and injured 145 more after a gusset plate failed during the evening rush hour, causing the half of the 1,907-foot structure to fall into the Mississippi River.

Seventeen vehicles went into the water.

“We must never forget the terrible losses and injuries, which so many Minnesotans suffered on that tragic day and have endured every day thereafter,” according to a statement from Gov. Mark Dayton. “Lt. Gov. Smith and I join all Minnesotans, as we pause to remember and pray for the victims, their families and everyone whose lives were forever changed by the I-35W Bridge collapse,”

The National Transportation Safety Board found that the gusset plates on the 40-year-old bridge were too thin to support the weight of the busy interstate highway span near downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota’s flagship campus.

The new I-35W / St. Anthony Falls Bridge (Shutterstock)

A new bridge was planned and constructed in 11 months as a fast-tracked design-build project. The replacement span, built in 47days, features large arcing piers and pollution-eating cement.

The 10th anniversary has been a moment to look back on what was pointed to at the time as a major wake-up call regarding the nation’s aging infrastructure. The collapsed span was a so-called “fracture critical” bridge, a structure that can collapse if there’s one vital component that fails.

There are currently around 18,000 fracture-critical bridges around the U.S.

“I think we should celebrate the 10th anniversary and all of the great things that have happened, and I think we should also look in the mirror and be disgusted that almost nothing has been done in this country to keep it from happening again,” former Mayor R.T. Ryback said, according to The Journal, a local newspaper covering downtown and Northeast Minneapolis that recently revisited the multi-jurisdictional response to the bridge disaster.

The 1,300 pound gusset plate that failed is now on display at the Mill City Museum through the end of August.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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