London. River Kwai. Mostar. Santa Monica. Oakland. A few bridges come to mind. The first thing that I thought–I swear–when I heard about the I-35W (from Yuna, in France, no less) was: Enough with the tax cuts, already. Another off the cuff thought–the bridge falling, the neglect or carelessness, is equivalent to terrorism. One group in society taking from another.
This morning, after I drove to the Y, still on the super-early morning wake up schedule from the trip, and I was sitting in the van in the parking lot, waiting for the doors to be unlocked. There were three or four people standing in front of the door, too. It was about 5:20 and it opens at 5:30. I decided to drive over and take a look at the fallen bridge.
It was still dark as I took the Cedar Avenue exit just after crossing the I-94 bridge and headed for the West River Road. I didn’t get far on the River Road, though, before I came to a check point. A police car, barricade, yellow tape. I drove back around and parked in Cedar Riverside by the co-op and walked across the University of Minnesota campus, past the Humphrey Institute, the Wilson Library and out across the open, second-level deck of the Washington Avenue bridge, but I could see anything.
After walking back to the van, I drove down past the Holiday Inn and parked as close to the Stone Arch bridge as I could. As I walked in the gathering light, I could see the halogen work lights on the Tenth Avenue bridge–closed because of proximity–and I could hear helicopters above. I walked half way across the Stone Arch bridge, and wasn’t sure what I was seeing. I called it quites and headed for work, where, when I arrived about 7:00, workoutless, I took my gym bag in with me and showered there.
It occurs to me that the bridge collapse is like 9/11. I know that they’ve had two weeks now. There were places along the river where still visible yellow police tape has been superseded by chain link fence.
“You can’t get any closer than this,” the helmetless, leather jacket-clad, goggles around the neck guy on the Harley said to Dorothea and I later in the evening, she and I on our bikes, pulled up to the edge of a parking lot overlook the bridge. This was on the west side of the river between the Tenth Avenue bridge and the still standing approach to I-35W. I guess you had to be there. Made an impression on me, though.
We continued on our way, our destination being the Thursday concert at the Mill Museum ruins. We locked our bikes up in front of the Guthrie and headed for the that crazy half-bridge to nowhere that juts out toward the river. There was a young woman at the door to the outside of that bridge, only letting people go out as others came in so that there wouldn’t be too many people out there. There was a pretty good crowd of gawkers.
The band was Cuban salsa. We listened for a couple of songs, standing in the doorway to the ruin courtyard where the band was playing. Then we headed across the Stone Arch. What I hadn’t realized when I had been there this morning was that you can see the crumpled green iron-work draped over the east pier. That had not been evident in any pictures that I had seen. That was the twisted, most mangled.
As a side bar, I thought much about mechanical failure as I was flying across the North Atlantic at 35,000 feet altitude and as I was whizzing around in the Paris Metro.
Finally, we stopped on the east side of the river, at the edge of MetalMatic. That was close-up and dramatic.
Also, talked to my mother today. She fell in the shower probably right after we left, and got banged up. Pulled the red safety chain for help.
We also got word today that someone just got diagnosed with breast cancer.