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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

I-35W Bridge Collapse

View From Bridge #9 — August 26, 2007


I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The busy Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed at the peak of rush hour on Wednesday, August 1, 2007. These photos are taken from Northern Pacific Bridge #9, an old railroad bridge that has been converted into a bicycle path and pedestrian bridge. They are arranged from south to north, and we are looking west towards downtown Minneapolis. They were taken the morning of August 25, 2007, which happened to be one of first sunny days since the bridge collapse. This bridge had been closed for three weeks while the victims were being recovered.

Note—these materials are covered by copyright and may not be used without written permission.

The photo above shows a section of the south end of the bridge that fell against the embankment of the river gorge. This is the area where the school bus ended up. Notice that construction workers have erected a wooden stairway on the far side of the roadway. The gorge is about 100 feet deep at this location.

The photo below shows the southern piers nearest the water. Notice that one set of 4 lanes is draped over the piers, and the other set of 4 lanes is fully on the near side of the nearest pier. This is the shift to the east that investigators have been talking about.

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos show work near the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock. The barges on the left have vertical poles on their corners. These are anchors that are driven down into the riverbed to keep the barges in one place. The barges on the right are mobile. They are being loaded with steel and concrete debris from the demolition of the bridge deck that landed in the water. The white truck is the last remaining vehicle on the bridge from the collapse.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a close-up of the demolition of the bridge deck, and the barges that are supporting that work. The middle barge is anchored, and that is where the backhoe is sitting. Steel is loaded on the barge on the left, while concrete and rebar is loaded on the barge to the right.

The photo below is more of the bridge deck that landed in the water. The large amount of trusswork that supported the bridge from below is underwater. The thickness of this trusswork resulted in the bridge deck remaining just above water, which was a lucky occurrence for the people that survived this fall.

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
Here are two more views of the north end of the bridge deck that landed in the water. Construction crews are building a roadway that will eventually extend almost entirely across the river. This will allow construction equipment to be brought in for the demolition work, and allow conventional dump trucks to be able to haul away the debris.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above shows the northern pier that is closest to the water. The roadway section here was one of the last to fall. When it fell, it tipped back, and pushed the pier out of plumb and towards the river.

The photo below shows the far northern pier. Unlike other deck sections that were largely intact, the deck section here is more or less draped over the pier. The section to the north was somewhat cushioned by falling on 5 parked railroad cars. There were a large number of cars on that section, all of which survived.

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos show the yard where the bridge debris is being analyzed by the NTSB. This area is located just north of the Washington Avenue Bridge. Rebar and concrete is being piled on the far side. The steel is being arranged based on where it was located on the bridge. This steel and rebar will eventually be recycled.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a close-up showing some of the bridge debris being unloaded. The photo below shows a chunk of steel on a flatbed trailer with a canvas over the artifact. This part of the bridge is being shipped to NTSB labs in Washington, DC, for further analysis.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a close-up of a barge hauling a load of steel to be sorted out. Much of the first steel is being removed from the main navigation channel. The US Navy has divers on-site to do underwater steel cutting. That explains why so many of the pieces of steel have such clean cuts. The photo below shows the tiny tugboat that is being used to move this barge.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a close-up of the tiny tugboat that is being used to move the barges. It is amazing that something so small can push around such a heavy steel barge.

Below is the river boss. This section of the Mississippi River is closed to all river traffic. No boat moves without clearance from the river boss. There is no sense in compounding one disaster by having yet more accidents. Note the radar antenna on top of the small boat.

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

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