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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

I-35W Bridge Collapse

View From The 10th Avenue Bridge — September 2, 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 the 10th Avenue Bridge, which had been closed for a month following the collapse of the I-35W bridge. They are arranged from south to north, and we are looking west towards downtown Minneapolis. They were taken the morning of September 2, 2007. Some of these photos are off-center. That is due to shooting the photos blindly. Officials erected a tall fence along the edge of the 10th Avenue Bridge, so many of these photos were taken by holding the camera high in the air above the fence, and taking random shots until I stumbled on a shot that was acceptable.

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

The photo above gives an idea of just how wide the river crossing is at this point just below the Saint Anthony Falls. The bridge itself was over 1,900 feet long, more than a third of a mile.

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above shows the work going on at the south end of the bridge to remove concrete and rebar. The photo below shows how the bridge spans landing on the south bank of the Mississippi River. The river gorge is over 100 feet deep at this point. The very bottom sections of concrete show the shift to the east that investigators are looking into. Both photos show the temporary construction offices that have been set up. A wooden stairway has been put in to give easier access to the job site.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These photos are two more views of the bridge spans on the south end of the river crossing. Note that the diagonal line in the upper photo is part of the chain link fence that I was shooting through. Several other photos in this series have similar artifacts.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is the remains of the bridge span that fell into the main channel of the Mississippi River. The concrete and rebar have already been removed. The water is about fifteen feet deep in this area. Some of the bridge truss remained intact under the roadway, which caused the roadway itself to stay above water.

The photo below is an overview of the north end of the bridge collapse site. The track crane is sitting on a temporary causeway that has been built about halfway across the river.

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

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a closer view of the roadway section on the north side that suffered the most damage. The photo below shows part of the truss section on the north end of the bridge. This section appears to have become disconnected from the section that spans the river. When it lost support, it tipped backwards, pushing the support piers out of plumb.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
Here are two more views of the truss at the north end of the bridge. This section fell backwards, causing the span to the right to pancake onto a parking lot that was located below the bridge.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a close-up view of the very north end of the truss, which pancaked onto the parking lot below when it lose support. The building in the background is the University of Minnesota Tandem Accelerator Lab, which hosts high-energy physics experiments.

The photo below is a close-up of the northern-most pier. Unlike other areas of the bridge where the broken truss ended up largely intact, here, the structural steel members look like wet noodles draped over the support pier.

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

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos show one of the approach spans that fell as part of the bridge collapse. This section landed on a 19th century retaining wall that supports the small rail yard. Several parked railroad cars were damaged in the accident.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

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