: Think this'll make it onto the History Channel's "Engineering Disasters"?

08-02-07, 11:04 PM
So for those of you who haven't heard (like there's anyone out there) a major bridge collapsed yesterday in Minneapolis...about 20 miles away from my home. The cause is unknown yet, but it's not thought to be terrorism, just a structural failure. The bridge was completed in 1967, right in the middle of the big urban boom, so it wasn't that old of a bridge, and it seemed ok structurally, atleast going off of the inspections MNDOT does, but in the '05 inspection, it was rated "structually deficent"...whatever that means.

Don't know yet how many are dead, because so many cars haven't been opened or found yet, but it's quite a mess. I heard tonight that 74 were injured so far. Seeing this reminds me of the pictures from the 1989 San Francisco/Oakland earthquake...seeing the bridge sandwiched ontop of it's self, etc etc.

Now I'll explain this a bit more to the non-locals.

I-35 starts in Northern Minnesota and ends in Texas, and it runs straight thru the Twin Cities, but it splits apart in there, making 35-E(ast) and 35-W(est). The bridge was part of 35-W, in the middle of Downtown Minneapolis. Now I don't hang out much in Minneapolis, so I'm not very familar with the streets, but I think I've traversed the bridge once or twice before (Tanner, did we cross this when we brought your cars to your house?), but I use 35-E daily, as a matter of fact, I almost took 35-W home from Duluth instead of 35-E, but decided against it at the last minute....wierd.

I wonder if this is something we'll remember in ~30 years. This isn't a disaster on the level of the Alfred P. Murrah building bombing back in 1995, but it's not far behind that.

Pretty sad, wierd stuff I must say. I'll always remember where I was when it happened.


08-02-07, 11:20 PM
I think it will. It's a pretty spectacular failure.

Frankly, I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened sooner or more often. So much of the infrastructure in this country is in lousy shape, but infrastructure isn't sexy. So it doesn't get much attention until something awful happens.

RIP to the poor victims.

08-02-07, 11:39 PM
Our statics professor was talking about this today, and he was like, I wouldn't want to be the engineer whos ass is on the line. And I definitely agree with gdwriter, I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner or more often.

I feel for those families who have lost loved ones in this accident.

08-03-07, 12:02 AM
Our statics professor was talking about this today, and he was like, I wouldn't want to be the engineer whos ass is on the line.That brings to mind one of documentaries I watched afer 9/11 interviewing Leslie Robertson, the chief engineer for the World Trade Center. IIRC, he was in New York that day and saw the towers fall. Even though he wasn't responsible for their collapse, it must have been especially wrenching for him to see that.

I found this quote:

"My responsibility was to conceive and direct the various research activities. The robustness and stamina of the buildings is my responsibility. All the drawings have my name on them."

I thought it was amazing that the buildings stood as long as they did after the impact and fire.

08-03-07, 12:08 AM
Yeah, I wonder if the company that engineered this bridge is still around after 40 years. Or would the Army Corps of Engineers design stuff like this?

08-03-07, 12:46 AM
The army doesn't do things like that for public infrastructure.

08-03-07, 03:27 AM
I thought this was going to be a Northstar thread.

We have bridges with the same design south of STL. They're doing inspections.

08-03-07, 07:39 AM
I think they are going to find a long trail of negligence.
I also think there will be some people involved that may try to kill themselves over the grief.
Lawsuits will abound.

I am not so sure this was an engineering failure, I think it was a maintenance issue, and quite likely related to the method of "repair" this bridge was receiving.
After all, the bridge likely only had a small portion of its design weight on it, I guess it was designed for 5 lanes of traffic, but from what I could see they were only running 2 with some equipment on the bridge.

The video of the whole center span dropping out of the bridge was amazing.
It just fell straight down!

God bless the families of those affected and may he care for the souls that were lost.

Jonas McFeely
08-03-07, 08:01 AM
Chad, you ever heard of/listen to Atmosphere?

Also, someone should post some pics/video of the mayhem.

08-03-07, 08:03 AM
God bless the families of those affected and may he care for the souls that were lost.


08-03-07, 08:16 AM
Fourteen people were killed on May 26, 2002, when a barge slammed into the bridge on Interstate 40 over the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma. The impact caused four of the bridge's approach spans to collapse.

Picture: http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/05/26/barge.bridge/index.html

The deteriorating state of Oklahoma's bridges was made evident earlier in May by a report from "The Road Information Program" (TRIP), which examined the conditions of Oklahoma's bridges. The study found that thirty-three percent of the state's bridges are "structurally deficient" and seven percent are "functionally obsolete." Researchers also discovered that more of Oklahoma's bridges were built in the 1930s - 24 percent - than during any other decade. We lead the nation in "Bad Bridges".:rant2:

As far as the Murrah Building Bombing, it was practice for the New York Fire & Rescue who were nice enough to help us in our time of need..:usflag:

08-03-07, 09:55 AM
Yes, it will be on Engineering Disasters for sure once the cause is found, I made that comment to Jesda a couple of nights ago actually.

The problem with the theory relating to the maintenance being performed on the bridge, is that it was not major structural maintenance, but rather resurfacing and some very small fixes. Nothing on that level should ever cause a bridge of that magnitude to fail completely, especially BOTH sides. By any stretch it is not even an OLD bridge. A bridge built in 1967 should be capable of lasting at least 50 years with minimal maintenance, even in a harsh climate.

Theres a couple of possibilities. A of course is just a failure somewhere in the design that finally gave way, B is there was a train that got smashed underneath the bridge, this train may or may not have had something to do with what occured, and C. is there are some locks just up and to the left of the bridge. It is possible that a barge or some other vessel may have "tapped" bridge at some point, damaging it sufficiently to cause a catastrophic failure. In any case, there is surveillance video of the bridge falling, so if anything like this is the case, the video would catch it. So far nothing of that sort has surfaced.

So far the death toll is actualy astoundingly low. It started off at 7, then the Star Tribune website splashed 9 on their website for a short time, and now its back down to 5 and 8 are still missing or unaccounted for.

Terrorism has not been conclusively ruled out (nor has an 800lb gorilla for that matter), but is unlikely if not just for the simple fact none of the major groups have admitted responsibility... and they are always quick to do so.

08-03-07, 10:05 AM
I'm no bridge engineer but if you look at a picture of that bridge before it fell there doesn't seem to be much in the way of support on each shore. I prefer a little more meat in the footings of the bridges I cross.

08-03-07, 10:30 AM
Chad, you ever heard of/listen to Atmosphere?

I heard of them. They were on the radio around here back in March and people were pretty excited about it.

08-03-07, 11:04 AM
Chad, you ever heard of/listen to Atmosphere?

No, why?

I thought this was going to be a Northstar thread.

Ohhhhh disss!!!

If I've got any time this weekend, maybe I'll take the light rail down to Minneapolis and see how close I can actually get to take some pics and stuff.