A Catastrophe of Historic Proportions

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


This evening’s collapse of the eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis remains unexplained, but it’s clear from the pictures that the damage is horrendous.

The major artery between Minneapolis and St. Paul, crossing 1,000 feet of the Mississippi River, came down in three sections, dropping 60 feet into the water, part of it onto a freight train passing along the banks. It was during rush hour, around 6pm, though reports have the number of cars that fell into the water at only 50. Thus far the death toll is at 7, with 38 injured.

The bridge was being repaired at the time of the collapse, but what exactly caused 1,000 feet of steel and concrete to calve in three is unclear. A civil engineering study at the University of Minnesota in 2001 found that the bridge’s steel girders were “susceptible to fatigue cracking.” Still, more recent studies found that the bridge did not need replacing.

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty called the collapse a “catastrophe of historic proportions” and Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak said that he was concerned that it could “be a very tragic night when this is over.”

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate