Minnesota’s (Collapsed) Bridge #9340

I-35W BridgeAugust 1, 2007; Minnesotan’s were dealt the the summer disaster of the decade: The I-35 bridge over the Mississippi collapsed on both lanes of traffic at 6:00PM evening rush-hour. And, I think every Minnesotan knows who should be blamed for it: The Minnesota GOP.

From January all through June, the DFL legislature tried to put together a Transportation Bill that would have earmarked an incredible amount of infrastructure support to our highways and bridges. Also included in that Trans Bill was to put together a desperately needed mass-transit and light rail system. But, our (Republican) Governor vetoed the job.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s annual survey of highway smoothness, the state missed its own target for the number of roads it wants in “good” condition for the fourth year in a row. In addition, “the percentage of lower-volume roads in ‘poor’ condition increased to 5.2 percent — the highest level on record. By 2010, more than 3 percent of freeways, interstates and other high-volume roads are projected to be in the poor category, up from 2.3 percent last year.” [Star Tribune, 6/11/07]

While all of this was going on, Governor Tim Pawlenty was in Iowa stumping for US Senator John McCain’s miserable race for US President.

Governor Pawlenty was quick with his veto pen too. Trying to act like a pint-sized George W Bush:

Picture 2Literally wielding a big red VETO stamp to appease the no-tax crowd that remains hell-bent on a something-for-nothing relationship with government, Gov. Tim Pawlenty deep-sixed the bipartisan transportation bill. ‘How dumb can they be?’ he sneered of the lawmakers who dared approve a tax hike to fix the state’s roads.

Minnesotan’s already face the worst traffic in the country. We rank up there as Number 1 in some areas and are in the top five in many others.

Minnesota scored best, 1st place, on rural interstate condition with no poor miles reported. It ranked 4th on fatality rate and 5th on deficient bridges. The lowest rankings were 49th for urban interstate congestion and 35th for maintenance disbursements per mile of responsibility.

“Minnesota seems to be holding its own despite rising congestion and unit costs,” the study said.

(The bold is mine.)

In case you don’t know the Twin Cities Metro area: Think of our freeway system as a bullseye with two vertical lines: I-35W (Minneapolis) and I-35E (St. Paul). The beltway (I-694) is under complete renovation at I-35E north of St Paul. Now that I-35W is a complete disaster… Who do you think will suffer the most? The Governor? The Lt Governor? How much gas will be wasted as commuters who live north of the Twin Cities over-clog western and eastern artery freeways to get around this nightmare?

In 2001, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies looked at this Minnesota Bridge #9340 and noted that the bridge did show signs of stress in the area of fatigue in the truss areas.

The bridge’s deck truss has not experiencedFOX-9 Photo fatigue cracking, but it has many poor fatigue details on the main truss and floor truss system. The research helped determine that the fatigue cracking of the deck truss is not likely, which means that the bridge should not have any problems with fatigue cracking in the foreseeable future. As a result, Mn/DOT does not need to prematurely replace this bridge because of fatigue cracking, avoiding the high costs associated with such a large project.

One might take note that Minnesota’s Lt Governor, Carol Molnau (R) also serves as Commissioner of the Dept of Transportation. And, if you’re that interested in Minnesota politics, you’ll remember that in June 2006, her department tried to “fish” for a contractor to fix a major congestion area known in the Twin Cities as the “Crosstown Highway” where Highway 62 interchanges with the very same I-35W. This site is approximately four miles south where today’s bridge collapsed.

Lt Gov Carol MolnauHer department went looking for a contractor who was willing to cough up $250 million of their own money to fix the the congested area while she was promising to pay them back “sometime soon”.

The $250 million Twin Cities project was set to start in August but contractors walked away from the unorthodox financing plan, which required them to put up their own money to keep construction going between state payments.

The plan failed. Molnau couldn’t find any suckers who were willing to play “First National Bank of Crosstown Highway” and she couldn’t find any under writers to support her in Shanghai, Bejing, New York or Hong Kong. So the Crosstown Highway project remains a complete nightmare.

Let me remind you again: The Minnesota DFL did have a plan! They produced a Transportation bill! The Governor’s tried to act like a little George W and he vetoed it. In “GOP World”: anything a Democrat says is worth ignoring and trivializing. And now we can watch 6 “trivialized” dead Minnesotans in the Mississippi River on the I-35 Bridge #9340.

I’m not going to let up on Lt Gov Carol Molnau either. She and her failed Dept of Transportation staffers had to deal with another major bottleneck of traffic: Interstate 494 and US 169, southwest of the Minneapolis. It was completely engineered to remove traffic lights and improve the cloverleaf areas. Everybody in Eden Prairie, Golden Valley, St Louis Park and Bloomington suffered through the summer heat and clogged traffic jams all summer long. The project failed (of course) with the same bottleneck problems. Those folks did get brand-new traffic lights and a new proposal to start the entire project is was slated to begin next year.

So would the DLF proposal for the Transportation bill prevented this horrific bridge collapse?! Of course not! We’re not being naive here. But if there’s any time to point a finger at anybody who’s vetoing a Transportation Bill, it needs to be pointed at our Republican Governor.

New Orleans, the Republican President has abandoned any attempt to rebuild that city. Instead, they blamed Louisiana’s governor Kathleen Blanco while Louisianan’s drowned. In Kansas, the state flooded earlier this spring and the Republican President blamed their Democratic President Kathleen Sebelius and have ignored the good folks of Kansas… In New York City, an explosion in Manhattan underground, only to find that it was an infrastructure problem (of course!) and the problem is 80-Odd years old.Joker

These Republicans will sit back and do nothing but vote in permenant tax cuts for their rich buddies and while our infrastructure collapses around us. They obviously don’t care about our lives and our cities and our country – as long as we continue to fork over our wallets to pay for their inflated gas hikes and hand over our children to fight their failed wars.

So do you think it’s mind-boggling to see Minnesota’s Bridge #9340 collapsed horrific footage? Are you still that naive to believe that it won’t happen in your city?!

Where do you live? In Albuquerque?

Do you live in Lexington, KY? Where do you live?

How much of this Republican bull-shit are you willing to buy into before a sewer pipe explodes in your own home town?

How much of this Republican crap are you willing to believe before you’re digging out a dead-body stuck in a car in the local river?

Mary E PetersWe’ve watched this horror on our television sets all night. All of our network affiliates jammed this horror down our throats all night. Minneapolis telephone numbers are met with annoying buzzing sounds, and we have a lot of people in the local trauma center looking for missing loved ones. Everybody’s emailing each other checking up on each other, I’ve had phone calls from dear friends in Atlanta, Hawaii, Washington, Ohio and Michigan… Friends checking upFruitFly on us and making sure we weren’t on that bridge. The news is telling us that the US Secretary of Transportation is expected to fly into MSP for a look-see at this “Minnesota Bridge #9340”, as if we care anyway. She wasting her time and she’ll be in our way looking for some stupid photo-op while we’ll be digging out more Toyotas and Hyundai’s from the bottom of the Mississippi. Excuse me while I skip out and pay attention… Six dead people have been fished out of the river so far at the time of writing this. There’s a pregnant American woman who’s been found… Oh Lord, another lost life. I’ve gotta go…

President Bush keeps talking about “keeping Americans” safe. But who will keep all of us safe from the GOP?


Other (GOP) notes of interest on this piece:

Slideshow WCCO, CBS Affiliate Minneapolis has a slideshow of I-35W bridge before GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty let the bridge collapse.

Slideshow WCCO, CBS Affiliate Minneapolis has a slideshow of the bridge after it collapsed

Slideshow ABC Affiliate, KSTP

Video : Minneapolis Star-Tribune

20 Responses

  1. You are absolutely right on target.

  2. you sir are one sick and uncaring bastard …

    within hours of a catasprophe, with the dead still warm (and many still missing) and all you can do make a politcal attack

    truly unbelievable ….

  3. […] so without lapsing into profanity right now.  Suffice to say that I think the Fruit Fly has some very valid points.  If you want up-to-date info, Minnesota Monitor is tracking the story, Noah Kunin, who took the […]

  4. Thank you for compiling a little history of Minnesota roads and politics. It’s time for inept, greedy, self-centered politicians to stop their partisan games and get something done for the good of ALL.

  5. I am not political. I am not of the right or left.

    You could have waited 24 hours while 20+ people are missing to post this.

    Shame on you.

  6. Highway 62 is the crosstown, not 65.

    Also, I agree with the above posters. You should have saved this for tomorrow.

  7. I don’t support the GOP approach to funding infrastructure — or the rest of state services — and write about this regularly. But demonizing them isn’t going to help. Both parties have played politics and failed to reach better solutions, while taxpayers sat on the sidelines. Where was the public groundswell of support for new transportation funding or to pressure Pawlenty to pass the transportation bill?

    Also, you have it backwards when you say Minnesota “ranked 4th on fatality rate and 5th on deficient bridges.” The rankings in this case mean the state was 5th best.

  8. No only is your analysis inept and short-sighted, but it’s also extremely ill-timed.

  9. Excellent work, fella. Every news source has picked up your lead in getting to the heart of the matter. Fantastic journalism with a local intelligence. I linked to you at my place.

    Thank you!


  10. No, it’s never the time to attack a failed Republican policy, is it! We must never do that, Oh No. Only Democrats can be attacked, and we won’t do that on policies, only on their personal lives. Is that the point here? Look away and it didn’t happen? Look away and pretend that Reagan wasn’t warned by the Society of Civil Engineers that a bill was due for fixing infrastructure, and he wasn’t meeting it? That Bush wasn’t warned? That Clinton wasn’t warned? That GW wasn’t warned that he wasn’t putting enough back into the country?

    They were all warned. And NONE of them wanted to be the one to tell America that THE PARTY IS OVER! If you want safe bridges or safe streets or safe gas mains or cops on the corner YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE MAINTAINENCE OF THE SERVICE!

    Roosevelt knew this, Truman knew it, Eisenhower knew it, Kennedy knew it and Johnson and Nixon and even Ford and Carter knew it. But somewhere between the tax cuts and the corporate earnings, it got forgotten.


  11. There should be a ban on people like Kneel Boortz to drive on our fucking highways and roads since they don’t want to pay for them. People like that should just pull up their bootstraps and just build their own and leave everyone else alone and bring out their own fucking shovels and try to do it without whining pissing and moaning about taxes.

    These morons keep harping no taxes and think that everything pays for itself magically.

  12. Great post and PROPERLY timed while this is still painfully fresh in everyones mind, thank you Republicans for allowing this to happen, I work for the Florida Department of Transportation and am well aware of what happens when you put Republicans in charge of the infrastructure. It crumbles and they could care less. Trust me on this I have just survived 8 years of Jeb Bush, and watched as he destroyed state agencies and contracted out state services. The remaining state agencies are so financially inept they are now no longer effective, i’m betting MDOT is in a similar situation.

    Oh and all you Republican posters, keep voting Republican

  13. When people start dying and no one knows why it is a good idea to reconsider the past. There is no good time to mourn, lest of all the moments ahead when more may die.

    When politicians do not step up to the plate and accept responsibility, then it is the duty for the people to remind them of it. Bridges don’t collapse if properly maintained and supported. The contractors working on it may have been culpable, but if the work area is insecure, then those guys are in a hazard zone and work at their peril.

    These lives were taken from them by a crumbling infrastrucure. Lacking wisdom, apologists continue to turn their heads away. That would be business as usual.

  14. You should have blamed this on Bill Clinton, because the time is always right to blame the Clenis!

    The “Patriots” of the GOP want to kill off our country brick by brick so they can hold on to one more moldy dime. The only thing worth spending their money on is weaponry we can use to disrupt the middle east so they can grab more of our money at the pump. Now THAT’s an investment to be proud of!

  15. The time to express outrage is when the outrage occurs not some seemly but remote future.
    In Washington State we say we’re being “Eymanized” to indicate the destruction of our infrastructure by deliberate starvation. It’s happening in just about every state of the union.
    The people of Minneapolis and St. Paul have my sympathy for being the first state to suffer the consequences of republican policy on so large a scale.

  16. extremely ill-timed. And mostly false.

  17. Excellent blog. It should be submitted as a guest column in one of the dailies…

  18. To:You Suck

    You didn’t read or understand a damn thing in my post. apparently you can not read or comprehend, you are the most dangerous type of individual in this country, an imbecile, who refuses to see the truth when it is painfully obvious. The blood of those killed in that manmade disaster is on YOUR hands as well, just for being ignorant! Congratulations on your stupidity! Now go watch Fox news, so they can think for you, because you are obviously unable to do it for yourself.

  19. This last comment from Chris is the funniest comment so far.

    I mean, it’s obvious that I’ve been pelted by a lot of people and the absolute horror to criticize the “Great and Almighty GOP” is strictly taboo.

    But to accuse me of misunderstanding his “blog”, which I have no idea which blog he’s talking about…and then to accuse me of watching FOX News.

    I think, just my guess here now… I think this comment was meant for someone else because it truly doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

    The Fruit Fly

  20. […] I-35W bridge collapse and to point out Republican Tim Pawlenty was running this state “on the cheap“. Four hours after the bridge collapsed, I blogged the fact that the Democrats knew there was […]

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