The I-35W Bridge Collapse

Ivy Chang | September 28, 2010

Wednesday, August 1, was a normal workday for most residents in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Traffic usually increases during midweek and creates congestion on many freeways and local streets around the Twin Cities during morning and evening rush hours. In summer, drivers expect to encounter road construction, the second season in Minnesota, that slows their travel around the metropolitan area.

But, no one expected the worst disaster in recent Minnesota history.

At 6:05 p.m., without warning, the Interstate 35W bridge, the busiest bridge in Minneapolis, suddenly collapsed into the Mississippi River with 50 to 60 vehicles on it. The north end of the bridge and two lanes had been under concrete repairs for the past six weeks. When it went down there were a few construction workers still on the job. Cars on the bridge landed on fallen concrete chunks, the broken bridge deck, the riverbank and in the river, some upside down.

A U.S. Coast Guard boat begins rescue work.
A school bus containing 60 students fell to the lower deck when the bridge section broke away.
Lights illuminate the I-35W bridge on August 1, about 9 p.m.
Beams and trusses are shown separated from the bridge piers and deck. The north side of the bridge is on the right.
Cars slid toward the street from a collapsed bridge section, which also crushed train cars below.
An American flag is draped over the Tenth Avenue bridge, with parts of the collapsed bridge in the background.
On August 6, Carl Bolander & Sons, general contractor of the river cleanup, arrives with a crane and other equipment on a barge.