Editorial: Remembering 35W for the 10th anniversary

Published 2:58 pm Sunday, August 6, 2017

Last Tuesday marked the 10 year anniversary of the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge. In the collapse, 13 people died and 145 were injured. The probable cause was gusset plates on the bridge were too thin and unable to support the weight of the bridge, traffic and construction materials.

To commemorate the memory of those who died on that day, those who served and those who will forever live with the day ingrained in their mind’s eye, the new 35W bridge went dark last Monday night. MPR reported on the anniversary, interviewing those who were on the bridge when it fell into the Mississippi River. The scene they described sounds like a war zone, with car windows breaking from the cracking of the bridge, trapped citizens screaming as cars behind and in front of them tumble down as the bridge gives way. Broken in the river, the bridge metal posts were twisted and bent and the remains of the bridge submerged in the water sagged like wet cardboard. Not a scene of a bridge that should have been safe for people to cross. Cars were littered on and around the bridge, some partially under water.

Since that day, Minnesota bridges have gone through more extensive assessments and many bridges are on the track to be repaired or replaced to avoid another tragedy.

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A recent article by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, spoke of the cost to fix Minnesota’s bridges and how many were built between 1966 and 1995. Many bridges are reaching their expiration dates and will need to be fixed or upgraded. Although it can be a burden to the tax payer, these are necessary structures to keep the state’s economy running smoothly.

The Albert Lea Tribune believes that all state infrastructure should be regarded with great care and responsibility. A pothole ridden road is not just an inconvenience, an old cracked bridge is not just an eyesore and an out of date building is not just old. They are a risk and a hazard. Keeping our infrastructure up to date helps ensure there will be less tragedies in our future and will help save future lives.