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View Full Version : Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis MN



EmeraldRose
2007-08-01, 07:04 PM
OMG! I drive part of this highway everyday!! (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/01/bridge.collapse.ap/index.html)

This just happened. It's across the Mississippi River. Anyone in the area, please let me know you are ok!!!!

Supagoof
2007-08-01, 07:07 PM
ER - Supagoof checking in. Myself and friends/family as far as I know are okay. Holy hannah! I take it Andre's okay?

EmeraldRose
2007-08-01, 07:14 PM
He's ok! He left a few hours ago for Bemidji. He's the one who called and told me to turn on the news...one of our friends called him to check on me. We have absolutely no cell service right now.

I can't call anybody to check on them. I can't even let family in other parts of the country know we're ok. We got a call out to my brother and my grandmother, so they'll have to let others know...

I'm glad you're ok!

:smalleek:

Supagoof
2007-08-01, 07:20 PM
Good to hear. Our cells are working, plus we have home phone too, so I'll be online if you find you need me to call someone on your behalf. Send me a PM if you do.

Yeah, from the sounds of it a lot of people survived the collapse in their vehicles. Still, quite a lot of cars were on it at the time...good news that the bus with kids had a successful evacuation.

Only thing left to do is pray.

EmeraldRose
2007-08-01, 07:26 PM
Thanks for the offer! We got calls out and Andre knows we are ok. We were not on the other side of the river today, so we didn't even have to cross it....

Oh wow....

At least it was down by four lanes! I just hope we hear from the others who are in the area.

I'm trying to think if I know anyone who would've been going across the bridge today...

Nomrom
2007-08-01, 07:33 PM
Wow, I just saw this on the news. That's horrible. I hope all the people on the bridge are okay. I think the big danger right now is all the cars that fell into the water. It sounds like a lot of people stayed okay in their cars, since they were interviewing someone who had been on the bridge. The rescue effort is already well underway, and hopefully people will be alright.

Madame_Zelia
2007-08-01, 07:42 PM
Wow. Man that is BAD! I'm glad to know that those of you who checked in are okay. I don't have cable, so I'm trying to find someway to get updated information. Keep us posted!

Is this the section near the U? I can't quite remember where 35W crosses the river.

EmeraldRose
2007-08-01, 07:47 PM
It's right across where University Ave is...just up river from the U of M.

Arnen
2007-08-01, 08:13 PM
My mom's whole side of the family lives in the cities. I'm freaking out even though my mom called everyone to make sure they're ok. :smalleek:

Jaguira
2007-08-01, 08:18 PM
We have lots of experiance with water-rescues around here, thank God for that. And for the fact that everyone in my family's safe, and that from the sounds of it everyone here's safe, too :smallsmile:

SDF
2007-08-01, 08:26 PM
I have a bunch of friends that go to The U, but I think most of them are home for the summer.

InaVegt
2007-08-01, 09:04 PM
Godverdomme, my parents are in Minneapolis and I haven't heard anything from them yet. I can't contact them because I've got no number to call them on.

EmeraldRose
2007-08-01, 09:12 PM
Gez, I'm sure they'll contact you as soon as they can! Let us know when you hear something!

Thes Hunter
2007-08-01, 09:29 PM
Gez, I am with ER above.

I am sure your parents will contact you soon.

But in the mean time *many hugs and comfort*


And I am glad you all checked in.

Pwenet
2007-08-01, 09:35 PM
My wife and I were watching the coverage on that collapse.

I hope that everyone who has family there, that they and their family and friends are okay.

adanedhel9
2007-08-01, 09:36 PM
Safe and sound.

I was out to dinner (and more than a few drinks) with my coworkers. My mom kept calling me, and I didn't answer her (since I was at dinner and hadn't heard anything about the bridge). So when I had finally heard about the bridge and figured out why she was calling me, I answered her, yelled "I'm not in the river", and hung up.

She stopped calling me after that.

Good to hear everyone's checking in. Gezina: every hope to you; I'm sure your parents are fine.

Zeful
2007-08-01, 11:55 PM
I'm okay. My mom called and told me what happened, otherwise I wouldn't have known till tomarrow. Anway, my heartfelt condolences to anyone who lost a family member there.

SweetLikeLemons
2007-08-02, 12:12 AM
I've finally found out that all my family members are safe. I am very relieved, but I feel terrible for those who were not so fortunate.

My thoughts and prayers go out for all those affected by this tragedy. Gezina, I hope your parents are ok.

tetsubo
2007-08-02, 06:43 AM
luckly me and mine are ok. I had not even heard about it until my mom called histaricly making sure my fiancee and I were ok. Once we turned on the news we could not belive it. We had another worry as My fiancee's folks were supposed to be in the area around that time but they were alright as well.

Thoughts and prayers to everyone who has not heard from loved ones yet and specially to everyone who lost or knew someone in the colapse.

InaVegt
2007-08-02, 07:06 AM
My parents are, luckily, alright. They hadn't heard till they turned the news on this morning (in the American part of the world).

EmeraldRose
2007-08-02, 09:39 AM
Gez, I'm so happy for you that they are safe! And for everyone else who has heard from family and friends!!

Miraculously, it seems that most of those who were present have made it safely away! I hope the news continues to be good.

Bor the Barbarian Monk
2007-08-02, 10:07 AM
I don't handle disasters well. Not since 9/11. I was on Long Island when it happened and watched in horror as the towers came down. I then wandered from the place I was living, crying randomly. I don't know what to say or do. The most I can come up with is a prayer for anyone even remotely connected to this bridge disaster.

Oeep Snaec
2007-08-02, 10:26 AM
My mom takes that route to work. She crosses that bridge every day during the school year. It will be interesting to see what they do about the rubble and how they explain what happened. I read several times the Homeland Security denied terrorism as the cause. But something made a safe bridge (inspected in '05 and '06) randomly fall. There is video of it collapsing, I think on CNN.

13_CBS
2007-08-02, 11:38 AM
Hmmm...according to CNN, the death toll is about 4 right now, but is expected to climb due to the fact that there are about 20-30 people missing and possibly trapped in the water with their cars.

Gygaxphobia
2007-08-02, 02:10 PM
how they explain what happened. I read several times the Homeland Security denied terrorism as the cause. But something made a safe bridge (inspected in '05 and '06) randomly fall.

No conspiracies pls, the bridge scored 4/10 when it was inspected. Don't let The Fear get to you.

InaVegt
2007-08-02, 02:46 PM
Hmmm...according to CNN, the death toll is about 4 right now, but is expected to climb due to the fact that there are about 20-30 people missing and possibly trapped in the water with their cars.

According to NOS, the death toll was 7 this morning (dutch time)

Supagoof
2007-08-02, 02:55 PM
No conspiracies pls, the bridge scored 4/10 when it was inspected. Don't let The Fear get to you.

That, plus the minor construction on the bridge (repairing bad spots of concrete) and the fact it was loaded with cars (rush hour speed about 10mph = nose to nose cars) adding to the weight. The bridge was 40 years old, so not new by any means.

The bridge needed repair. It's just a matter of time before they state that was the cause. I think the only reason it hasn't been admitted yet is because the DOT doesn't want to take responsibility for it - which is where everyone will blame when that news comes forward.

Problem is, the blame can't be placed so simply like that. The DOT may have known it needed repair, but with the budget they have to operate under (and consider that the budget get diminshed when gas prices go up due to cost of operating all the machinery they do) it comes under what's critical to get done right now vs. what can we wait on. Not an easy decision by any means. Should something have been done - certainly, but could something have been done is the more important question.

I'm glad to hear everyone and loved ones are safe. Gez - I'm happy your parents contacted you. I just hope that the dive teams have great luck in not finding anyone who may have been trapped down there, and by that I mean I hope everyone got out of their vehicles safely if their car did end up in the river.

SweetLikeLemons
2007-08-02, 03:06 PM
I guess the seven was an estimate. They had only four confirmed fatalities this morning, but they are pretty sure the toll will go up because there are cars under some of the concrete.

http://www.startribune.com/10204/story/1338294.html

Bor the Barbarian Monk
2007-08-02, 03:40 PM
As this event was the big news yesterday, the AZ channels sought their own engineering experts to give feedback. Far from any conspiracy theory, they pointed to climate. A 40-year-old bridge that has been experiencing extremely cold winters and fairly warm summers is going to have its materials expand and contract during the changes of the seasons. This will cause cracking. Now, I don't know the intricate details of the repair work, such as when it was scheduled, how long they'd been working, etc. But with all that potential damage - that which could be seen and may have been hidden - it's not nearly as shocking that it went down furing the height of rush hour.

Of course, all of this simply explains the tragedy. It takes away none of the terror and suffering, so my prayers will remain with those who are victims, know victims, and are helping victims.

Chris the Pontifex
2007-08-02, 03:47 PM
The bridge needed repair. It's just a matter of time before they state that was the cause. I think the only reason it hasn't been admitted yet is because the DOT doesn't want to take responsibility for it - which is where everyone will blame when that news comes forward.

Problem is, the blame can't be placed so simply like that. The DOT may have known it needed repair, but with the budget they have to operate under (and consider that the budget get diminshed when gas prices go up due to cost of operating all the machinery they do) it comes under what's critical to get done right now vs. what can we wait on. Not an easy decision by any means. Should something have been done - certainly, but could something have been done is the more important question.


(wikipedia) The cause of the collapse remains unknown. A 2001 Minnesota Department of Transportation report indicated weakness at the joints of the steel that held the concrete deck above the river, due to "unanticipated out of plane distortion" of the steel girders. The report also noted a concern about lack of redundancy in the main truss system.[38] Being a non-redundant structure, the bridge had a greater risk of collapse in the event of any single structural failure.

Glancing over that construction I'd say it was never fit as a highway bridge to start with, its so slender! The way the joints are designed makes them very sensitive to fatigue and second order effects due to "out of plane distortion".
The choice for L-shaped members is in my opinion what made the bridge to fail completely, they can carry huge amounts of tension but when compressed their failure is very unpredictable. This is also where the redundancy part comes from. When a member or joint fails some members designed for tension can be compressed instead, and if they fail its just domino's.

Of course all of this is wild speculation, I know nothing of the bridge's actual design and investigation of the failed members and joints should yield (engineering pun intended) more info.

As an engineer I'll say that some failures are bound to happen sometime. No-one can eradicate the chance of failure completely. But keeping it within acceptable ranges is not a hard choice, Supagoof, its a matter of doing the right calculations and being willing to spend the money. If the DoT was short they shouldve closed the bridge while trying to get that money from other sources. They knew the bridge didnt comply back in 2001! Plenty time for repairs, strengthening the bridge, or relaying traffic I'd say.

[EDIT in response to Bor]
Ah thanks, so fatigue it is. Most bridges that do fail due to fatigue. and its very hard to predict, especially when it occurs due to temperature changes. This doesnt change any of my rant above, however.

Thes Hunter
2007-08-02, 03:56 PM
Talking about why the DOT didn't have the money to fix the bridge, and where it could have gotten the money begins to float into the arena of political discussions. Which means I have much to bite my tongue about on this.


As for the extreme temperatures, as I am sure other Mid-westerners will chime in on... HELLS YEAHS.

It can change 30 degrees (or more) in just 24 hours. It's all because there is no geography impeding air flows either from the Gulf of Mexico, or for the Arctic. So depending dynamics of the jet stream and the high and low pressure systems... the temperature across the Mid-West will vary wildly.

I have a good experience of this growing up in Michigan, and we had just a wee bit of water sitting round us to act as a buffer.



"For those non-North American types, Michigan is the mitten looking one in the middle of the big land mass with all those 'Great' lakes around it.

Chris the Pontifex
2007-08-02, 04:03 PM
Talking about why the DOT didn't have the money to fix the bridge, and where it could have gotten the money begins to float into the arena of political discussions. Which means I have much to bite my tongue about on this.


Yeah, you're right, sadly its politicians spending the money, not engineers. I've been doing much tongue biting about this already.

CrazedGoblin
2007-08-02, 04:16 PM
is it just me or does the advert for life insurance on that news page showing a disaster with multiple fatalities just ring out as an "Only in America!" type thing?

Zar Peter
2007-08-02, 04:33 PM
In austria we had the same picture of the bridge with advertisings about car insurrance.

Oeep Snaec
2007-08-03, 10:41 AM
One of the people that died may have lived in my house before we (my family) did. Also, one of my neighbors is investigating why it happened.

In response to Chris' comments, there were many bridges that were deemed at higher risk than 35W. The varying amounts of traffic is taken into account when bridges are inspected. That was the main reason for not taking immediate action. Though he is certainly correct when he speaks of money control. NBC nightly news said the cost of repairing all the bridges in America would cost $65 billion. scrubbedOur whole infrastructure needs an overhaul.

WampaX
2007-08-03, 11:29 AM
Voice of the Wampinator: As has been mentioned before, keep the topic clear of politics.

Syka
2007-08-03, 11:43 AM
I'm glad to hear all the board members are ok.

As for those ads, I think they're tailored to hit on key words on pages. Like, on Myspace I get a lot of ones for anime and horror stuff. So having several mentions of cars and accidents is going to trigger an auto insurance ad. :) At least I think that's how it works.

Cheers,
Syka

Samiam303
2007-08-03, 05:53 PM
I'm actually in Minneapolis myself for the week, so I was rather shaken at the news. Luckily all my MN-area relatives are alright, and surprisingly it sounds as though almost all the victums are accounted for and very few people are critically injured. Nonetheless, my thoughts go out to everyone involved.

Rockphed
2007-08-03, 06:44 PM
"For those non-North American types, Michigan is the mitten looking one in the middle of the big land mass with all those 'Great' lakes around it.

I assume by "great" you mean Greatly Polluted and full of mutated, almost-sentient creatures.

In response to the bridge failure, Michigan has done a reassessment of its bridges, and come up with 9 counties with at least 1 in 4 bridges not meeting safety standards. Yikes!

Vuzzmop
2007-08-04, 04:48 AM
That was a bit too soon. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about the tragedy, and I'm glad to hear that all who have posted are okay. Good luck, as I can offer little else.

Jimor
2007-08-04, 07:37 AM
Of course all of this is wild speculation, I know nothing of the bridge's actual design and investigation of the failed members and joints should yield (engineering pun intended) more info.

My own bit of wild speculation: The paving crew on the bridge at the time seems suspicious. NOT because of the weight of any equipment, pavers are fairly small as far as equipment goes, and even a half dozen cement trucks waiting around to fill it up wouldn't be anywhere near the capacity of the bridge, even if bunched up in one spot.

What I'm more curious about is the nature of the action of the paving machines. If there was any kind of back-and-forth motion as part of the spreading/smoothing of the pavement mix, this could have set up a sympathetic vibration in the bridge. The word "Harmonic" is something that will give engineers nightmares because it can cause small forces to build up to devastating consequences. It's not a joke that a marching column of soldiers will mix up their cadence when crossing a bridge.

Add in the propensity for cracks already seen via the regular inspections, and you can see a possible sequence of events.

1) a small crack in a vital area that would probably get caught in the next inspection and shored up, is present.

2) the paving equipment is working and has a frequency that leads to a harmonic buildup of motion.

3) Cracked area is subjected to more flexing than it can handle, so it grows quickly and reaches a failure state.

There's a book Why Building Fall Down (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Buildings-Fall-Down-Structures/dp/0393033562/ref=sr_1_1/104-1542003-1763940?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186230715&sr=1-1) that I bet is going to get a lot of attention in the coming weeks.

Terrible tragedy.

bosssmiley
2007-08-04, 08:35 AM
Scrubbed.

Unfortunately Tannish2, people regularly can and do put a monetary value on human life. That's the whole basis of life insurance. It's how you get bad jokes like the climax of "Death of Salesman", when the lead character works out he's worth more dead than alive. It's part of the calculus of living in an unpredictable and risky world:

"X action has Y risk of Z consequence. Is the payoff from X worth more than YZ? If yes, then do X."

You remember that scene in "Fight Club" with the "...take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one..." monologue: all true.

Maintainence engineers, being pretty straightforward, professional guys with brain in their head, usually spot problems before they happen and notify their beancounter bosses, who then run the numbers through their personal A x B x C = X spreadsheets. It's the beancounters - who've likely never seen the problem in anything other than the abstract - who make the decision on whether funds for repairs are released to the guys on the sharp end. They don't see the gaping cracks weathering in a harsh climate, just the probabilities flickering on a screen.

Those on the ground don't have the authority. Those with the authority haven't seen the problem for themselves. Result: dissociation from the problem, and a whole new field for Murphy's Law to play in. Unfortunately that is the necessary downside of the division of effort required to build, run and maintain our marvellously complex industrial society. When the system works, there's none better that we've ever found; but when it fails people can, and do, die needlessly.

I'm sorry if the above post sounds cynical to you. It really isn't. I feel for the people who's lost relatives in a senseless accident, but I don't want people to assign blame and find scapegoats in the wrong places.

Miklus
2007-08-05, 01:34 PM
It must be very frustrating being a structual engineer responsable for bridge maintainage. You write a nice report on how delapidated the bridge is, and it is promptly ignored.

There was on thing the poor engineers could have done: Shut down lanes. There was, what, four lanes each way? Shut down one or two lanes due to "safety reasons". Traffic jams will insue. People will be pissed. And the politicians will suddenly find the money!

That's what I would have done anyway. Yes, the politicians might see this as a critisism of the budget and claim that I take the public hostage. They might even threaten to fire me, but I would just say "Sorry, I must follow procedure! Safety rules are safety rules. You're not suggesting that I break the rules, do you?"

EmeraldRose
2007-08-05, 01:39 PM
Two lanes each way were shut down at the time of the collapse. This could have been much worse than it was. Also, the fact that noone was really moving...during rush hour, traffic doesn't move much...it could have been going 70 MPH (more than 112 KPH) or more...

Miklus
2007-08-05, 05:05 PM
Aha, I see now that they where, in fact, doing some repairs when it collapsed. A little bit to late...or maybe the repairs was a factor in the collapse. Bridges and buildings often collapse during construction and renovation (that is, if they collapse at all, of couse).

I do note, however, that this seems to be a case of progressive collapse. One section falls, and the entire bridge collapses, even quite far up the banks on either side. It could have been designed better, methinks. Girder bridges don't take damage very well. There is no redundancy.

I wonder who looses "The Blame Game". Some engineers are already covering their butts. The politicians won't loose, they are too good at this game. I guess the construction firm doing the repairs gets to take the fall.

Mad Wizard
2007-08-06, 01:05 PM
I was actually at the Guthrie Theater when the collapse happened, and I could see it from there.

Chris the Pontifex
2007-08-07, 05:39 PM
I do note, however, that this seems to be a case of progressive collapse. One section falls, and the entire bridge collapses, even quite far up the banks on either side. It could have been designed better, methinks. Girder bridges don't take damage very well. There is no redundancy.


not all girder bridges do. welded tubular members would have taken this a lot better. plus, architects like them. then again it would have been more expensive... but easier to maintain... Seemingly the engineers at the time thought it was a good idea to use as little steel as possible, and they did a fine job doing just that.