08/03/2007 @ 07:51 AM: The following is various bits I've written since the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis on Wednesday evening. These are blog or forum segments, some edited slightly for relevance, pasted here in chronological order mostly for the purpose of archiving.
08.01.07, 9:48 PM
It's tough here in Minneapolis right now.
I hope most folks aren't very familiar with the feeling of dealing with a major catastrophe in your home city. Just getting the news of an interstate bridge collapsing into the Mississippi River is shocking enough, then calmly but swiftly getting in contact with your family and friends, then seeing the images of people amidst it all is truly overwhelming. I live just a couple of miles from the bridge that collapsed, and I drive it frequently. In every sense this hits very close to home. So far I don't know anyone directly affected by this tragedy, and I'm thankful for that. I'm hoping for the best for all of the families and friends of those injured or lost.
08.01.07, 10:24 PM
This is home for me, guys. I live about two miles from this bridge and drive it very frequently. I was like a lot of people from the area and calling everyone I knew to make sure no one was driving it at the time. A few people, including my mom, were on the bridge within an hour or so of its collapse. Cell phone networks were unavailable for a couple hours after the collapse because everyone was calling everyone to make sure they were okay. Thankfully, I have yet to hear of anyone I know being directly affected. This is seriously scary shit.
08.01.07, 11:52 PM
I'm not in a place yet where I'm ready to be angry and point fingers; it is still very much an emergency situation here. I did just respond to a MySpace bulletin from someone in New York, however. His original note was about the use of the word "terror" in the news reports. He made a valid point about its emphasis, but it was also very one-dimensional. Here was my reply:
I think you're a little early with this kind of a response to our tragedy. Some of us here in Minneapolis are still checking in with people we know to verify that no one was on the bridge at the time it collapsed. (I live just two miles from it.) I agree that the "fear factor" the current administration has invoked has been adopted all too much by the for-profit news media outlets, but terrorism had to be mentioned on news reports so folks could know right away that it was in all likelihood NOT a factor here. Gauging your own reaction to the word "terror" on news is, I believe, an important insight to make; but in this hour--that is still an emergency hour--it is not what those of us close to the catastrophe want to be bothered with. Tonight is for rescue, concern, condolences, and strength, and tomorrow is for analyzing, discussion, and criticism.
08.02.07, 10:30 PM
Well there's been a LOT of talk about the 35W bridge today. It was impossible to have a conversation with anyone and not bring it up.
Two thoughts I've had:
The weather here in the Cities has been extremely hot--90 and above, and there's been a lot of humidity with it. We're probably going to break a record this summer for most 90 degree days. I wonder if the heat was a factor (?).
From my perspective--which is one where I live very close to the incident but have still only been observing via news outlets--the response to the bridge collapse was VERY swift and effective. It would seem that emergency scenarios were executed quickly, and the various government and private groups coordinated well to organize and plan. Rescue operations went and are going well, hospitals handled injuries quickly, public transportation was modified to help with traffic concerns, federal aid has already been sought and/or applied for, and there is already a panel in place to begin planning clean-up and hiring of designers and contractors. As near as I can figure the folks from my state have done a hell of a job responding to this thing.
08.03.07, 06:51 AM
I'm actually quite thankful for all the national coverage this has drawn. For years I've been reading reports about how, as a nation, our bridges are over-used and generally not maintained or replaced as they should be. There's literally thousands of other bridges in the U.S. with the same classification and test ratings as the one that collapsed here two days ago; the minor maintenance repairs done more recently and assumptions about non-visible fatigue on the part of MNDOT and test engineers shed no light on the wear and corrosion that I'm fairly confident will be pinned down as the cause for this collapse. In short: We can't let heavily traveled bridges with inferior decades-old designs go so long without major overhaul or replacement. Bridges are damn expensive to build and maintain, but there needs to be more federal and state dollars put into them in the interest of safety and avoidance of catastrophe. I hope this is the wake-up call to that.