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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

I-35W Bridge Collapse

Views From Around The Security Zone — August, 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 several vantage points around the security perimeter that was established around the disaster site. The local Police spared no expense in setting up a security zone that ensured that no unauthorized photography would take place once they gained control of the scene late in the evening on August 1. The zone extended several blocks north and south of the bridge, and as far as a mile up and down stream of the river. Three other river bridges were closed, as well as all the parks and parkways in the area. The Police went so far as to bring in high tech military sound and motion detection equipment.

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

The photo above shows one of the security checkpoints at the south east end of the I-35W bridge. This check point has a vehicle blocking the road to keep anyone from trying to run through the barricade. This site is doing a 100% ID check. Note that this is not the outside checkpoint. Rather, this is the inner perimeter. To get to this location, one would already have to have passed a roadblock and ID check manned by Police. Even though this was only a few days after the bridge collapse, they already had tents erected and miles of chain link fence installed.

The photo below shows a tour bus and Police vehicles escorting a group of VIPs on the 10th Avenue Bridge. This goes to show that in our government today, the rights of the citizen to watch government in action no longer exist. Rather, it is all who you know.

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

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is looking north across the collapsed I-35W bridge. The vantage point is a municipal parking ramp located at the Holiday Inn Metrodome. I took this test shot with an 80mm lens. Before I could get the right telephoto lens attached, Police arrived and informed me that I would be arrested if I didn't leave the property that moment.

Below is an enlargement of the north end of the collapsed bridge. The vehicles are still sitting on the bridge. Some cars had a hard time keeping from sliding down the steep angle that the bridge ended up settling into. In fact, if you look in the tree, you can see a blue vehicle towards the middle of the bridge. That driver plowed into the center divider to keep his van from going over the edge. The left two lanes are traffic lanes, while the vehicles in the right two lanes are part of the construction project. A crushed railroad car can also be seen.

Again, we have an example of the intense security around the site. We see orange barrels and concrete K-blocks blocking the road, crime scene tape, and an officer stationed on site. Plus there has already been chain link fences installed and a No Trespassing sign has been erected. And this is in a location where you had to go though a checkpoint more than 2 miles up the road to get here.

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

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
Under the theory that the Police could not be everywhere, I returned to this ramp a few days later. This time, I had my camera ready, and I knew where to go to get the best shots. All I had to do was lower the passenger window, stop at the right stop, click off two shots, and move on like nothing ever happened.

The upper photo shows an excavator breaking up concrete and rebar to disconnect one of the fallen sections from one of the sections that did not fall. This intact section of the bridge will eventually be removed to allow the new bridge to be built.

The lower photo shows the north end of the bridge. The cars have been removed, but the rail cars remain pinned under the collapse. The telephoto lens pulls the background in closer, so the 1600 foot gap does not look that big. And the 116 foot drop is not visible.

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

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos are taken from ground level at the south east end of the bridge. Work is progressing to remove the concrete and rebar from the remaining segments of the south end so the steel can be removed. These sections will be replaced when the new bridge is built.
I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Collapse, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is taken from University Avenue at the north end of the I-35W bridge looking south. The Holiday Inn (top left) and U of M military research building (top right) are both located on the south end of the crossing. The telephoto lens makes them appear closer than they really are. Police were prohibiting photos from this location, and they put up this big fence to get in the way. I was able to point the telephoto lens out the passenger window of my truck and ended up with a relatively nice photo considering the situation.

The photo below is the same section of the bridge, but viewed from the side of the bridge rather than the end of the bridge. This view gives a better idea of the final positions that the deck ended up settling into. While this photo appears to have been taken from the wrong side of the fence line, I can assure you that I was in a legal spot. The fence did a zigzag, and I was able to shoot through the gap where the gates joined as they blocked off the street. Had I been able to be on the secure side of the fence, I would have moved a few feet to the right to avoid having the outhouse in the middle of my photo.

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

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