Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Fall of the St Anthony Bridge

Today I am giving thanks that nobody I love was injured during this latest tragedy. My prayers go out to those who aren't so fortunate and have been affected by this collapse. There is also a little prayer going out to the people who make, inspect and repair bridges.

One of the bridges crossing the Mississippi in Minneapolis fell during rush hour traffic yesterday. It was the I-35W bridge. It used to be called the St Anthony Bridge. This is because it is near the St Anthony Falls. A few people know this, but we lived in Minneapolis before moving south to Iowa. I spent my freshman year at DeLaSalle High School on Nicolette Island. It wasn't all that far from our home in NE Minneapolis and I walked. Because the school is on an island, I had to walk across bridges. I never once feared that they would fall beneath me. Sometimes if I hadn't done my homework, I must have wished that they would.

I've never been afraid of driving on top of bridges, it is actually driving UNDER them that gets my pulse rate up a bit. I hate being stuck in traffic and being under an overpass. I always try to maneuver it so that I am just out of the way if the span above gives away.The DeLaSalle High School buildings can be seen behind this Minneapolis landmark sign. I love this sign.

By some coincidence, I was on MSN to one of my dearest friends from childhood who still lives near the old neighbourhood. This morning when I powered up the computer, hers was the first e-mail I received and it was reassuring me that she and her family were nowhere near the bridge when it fell. This is how I learned of the collapse.

I've since had more e-mails from the Minnesota contingent informing me that they are safe. No uncles or cousins were on that bridge at that time of day and they're all fine. My pal Anne Chase who lives in Minneapolis is in Korea this week (!) and therefore nowhere near that bridge.

I know that higher taxes is crippling but we've got to pay them. We've got to pay fuel taxes and road taxes. This way, the folks who take care of road and bridge maintenance don't have to stretch their budgets too tightly. Would you rather delay bridge maintenance or have pot holes filled? I fear it comes down to that sometimes. I'd really rather not knowingly drive across a bridge that is bordering on having to be replaced. I have always trusted that the Department of Transportation or which ever branch of government fixes bridges is on top of this sort of stuff. That trust has just taken a big hit. I may in time relax a bit about driving on bridges, but I'll never forget. Now I feel that I might want to exercise my rights as a road and bridge user and have a close look at the inspection reports for bridges that are used by me and my family.

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