Today's Blogs

Tragedy in the Twin Cities

Minnesota bloggers react to the bridge collapse and brace for political fallout.

Tragedy in the Twin Cities: At least four people are dead and 20 to 30 more are missing after an the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed Wednesday, sending cars into the Mississippi River. Divers halted their recovery efforts Thursday. The blogosphere offers eyewitness accounts and remembrances.

Friends and bridge neighbors Noah Kunin of Blanked-Out and Sean of MNpublius watched the disaster unfold. Kunin says he lives closer “to the 35W Bridge than anyone in Minneapolis” and watched the collapse from his roof: “Surprisingly quiet, but my entire warehouse apt shook quite a bit. Bridge fell so very slowly - poof. Yelled and yelled but no one answered. Only a handful of ppl in water, all got out ok and then began to help as well.” Sean writes, “I live three blocks from the bridge. The neighborhood is still foggy from the dust and the smoke. It was surreal to see all of the people wandering around. As my fiance’ said ‘It’s a great big morbid street party.’ “

Minneapolis blogger Fraters Libertas provides yet another account, this time from a fellow blogger who writes as Sisyphus, who was on a river cruise a few hundred yards away when the bridge fell: “I remember seeing the bridge buckle, and a white vehicle fall into the water. Then, the span of the bridge on the east bank side crumpled up like an accordion and the entire bridge fell towards the river. It was over before my brain could comprehend what I had seen - you just don’t expect to see a bridge collapse right before your eyes with no warning. … Each of us who had been looking at the bridge while it collapsed, remembered seeing one and only one car falling - and each of us remembered a different car. Another oddity is that none of us remember hearing any noise from the collapse at all.”

Minnesota political blogger Mitch at Shot in the Dark “never liked that bridge.” He writes, “[A]mong all of downtown Minneapolis’ bridges, it never really fit in with its surroundings architecturally; it was like a delivery van in a parade of Dusenbergs.”  But , he says, on the bridge, it’s a different story: “One of the most piercing memories of my life was my first winter in Minneapolis, in 1985-6. … For the first time, I crossed that bridge late at night going south over the river.  The view was, literally, breathtaking; the lights of the city, looking sharper than normal in the cold, were gemlike in their brilliance.”

On the Star Tribune’, editor James Lileks pens another pseudo-eulogy: “There are bridges, and there are bridges; this one had the most magnificent view of downtown available, and it’s a miracle I never rear-ended anyone while gawking at the skyline, the old Stone Bridge, the Mississippi. You always felt proud to be here when you crossed that bridge, pleased to live in such a beautiful place. … We’ll have that view again—but it’ll take a generation before it’s no longer tinged with regret and remembrance.”  Lileks also resigns himself to the predictable post-disaster political mongering: “There’s nothing onto which people cannot project the narrowest, most reductive political agenda. … Perhaps in 1604 AD the sight of an ox cart upside down in the ditch inevitably led to an argument about the king. We’ll have the answers in the end, and we’ll know what could have been done. But sometimes Things Fall Down, and it’s a simple, and horrible, as that.”

Critics of the Bush administration jumped to blame the Iraq war .”Unfortunately, more of these kinds of things will continue to happen as all our monies have gone to the war effort; leaving nothing to take care of infrastructure, and other issues at home,” claimsDaily Kos commenter Phil S 33. Digby at Hullaballo blames conservatism in general. “You cannot look at something like this and not wonder if the years and years of infrastructure neglect at the hands of GOP propagandists who have been starving government for decades now is finally coming back to haunt us.” Jazz at the Middle Earth Journal decries the quick finger-pointing: “I had assumed that it would be at least a few days before the Blame Game kicked into gear. Sadly, I was off by a wide margin.”

At Captain’s Quarters, conservative Minnesota blogger Ed Morrissey forays into the aftermath of the disaster, noting the 35W bridge “is very significant to the businesses in Minneapolis, and the Mississippi River has almost as much economic significance.” And, he says, the bridge needs to be rebuilt properly, “but it needs to get rebuilt quickly.” There’s also the disaster’s effect nationwide.  Morrissey declares, “With 80,000 American bridges classified as structurally deficient, as was the one that collapsed here, every state will have to answer for its infrastructure maintenance … and Minnesota actually was better than most in that regard before this catastrophe.” 

Read more about the I-35W bridge disaster. View a video of the bridge’s collapse.