Monday, June 9, 2008

Building Bridges

My friend Lee lives very close to the 35W bridge that collapsed last August. Yesterday we went for a walk across the 10th Avenue bridge, which runs right next to where they are re-building the new 35W bridge. This is a picture she took of just one part of the construction. It really captures the enormity of what they're doing.

When Göran and I ride our bikes across the University of Minnesota campus, over the bridge connecting the east bank of the university to the west bank, we can still see the wreckage from the old bridge. The pieces of the old bridge have been salvaged and neatly laid out on the river flats running next to the University, sorted by type of wreckage. From a distance they look like twisted and broken Tonka toys; parts of a child's erector set that got melted in the oven or run over by a car.

I've heard that the new bridge may be open as early as September, a little over one year after the old one collapsed. People say, "Oh that's quick." I don't know if it's quick or slow. How fast is an interstate highway bridge supposed to be built? It looks enormously complicated, and many people's lives -- not to mention local and regional economies -- will depend upon it being done right.

I look at it and part of me wishes the bridge could already be in place. And the other part of me realizes there's no point in building it if it isn't built right.

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