The Interstate 35W Bridge unexpectedly collapsed during the evening commute August 1st. The eight lane bridge, a major artery of Minneapolis, was undergoing repairs when it buckled sending dozens of vehicles into the Mississippi River below. The bridge, built in 1967, was about 1,900 feet long and rose about 64 feet above the river. Over the last week, road crews were out working on the bridge’s joints, guardrails, and lights. During the evening of the collapse, workers were laying concrete on the surface of the bridge completing a routine resurfacing project. This was considered the final phase of the construction project. There were 18 construction workers on the bridge during the collapse, only one is still unaccounted for.
After the collapse, hospitals officials counted 79 injured people from as many as 50 different vehicles. Many people had to scramble to the shore after the collapse. According to authorities there are still at least 12 vehicles submerged in the river. Divers using sonar will map out the bottom of the river to locate the remaining submerged vehicles. The death toll is expected to rise.
As the rescue effort becomes a recovery effort, the National Transportation Safety Board will begin gathering sections of the bridge to reassemble it in an attempt to understand why it fell. Authorities are treating the area like a crime scene until the cause of the collapse is found. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty ordered an immediate inspection of the bridges in the state with similar designs. Funds from both the transportation department and the federal government have been pledged in order to help with the rebuilding and recovery.
Article Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,291812,00.html