35W Bridge | KSTP.com

Aug. 1, 2007 is a date Minnesotans won't forget.

Thirteen people were killed and another 145 were injured when the Interstate 35W bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed during rush hour.

The incident garnered national attention and sparked conversation about road and bridge safety across the United States. Years after the collapse, we're revisiting the day that took a tragic turn, on 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com

12 years later, Minnesotans reflect on the 35W bridge collapse

35W Bridge

"There was a lot of rubble ... behind me was the inverted 'V' and right behind my car, the road was very crumbled. Some of the concrete had smashed into the trunk of my car, but otherwise my car seemed fine. In front of me was this 'ski jump,' where, right beyond the 'ski jump' was the river.

"I'm just thankful to be here. I'm thankful for life, I'm thankful for all my family and friends that helped me, I'm thankful that I took the time to work through all my emotions ... I just think that's helped me to continue to be more thankful."
"It felt like someone took a blanket and lifted it up ... then when we fell, we hit once and we popped up and then we hit again. Well I think when the bus hit, my seat belt locked and I couldn't move or get out of my seat so all I could do was lift my leg up to get the park brake on because (the kids) are up on the side and just keep my other foot on the brake because I did not know if the bus was going to roll. In the position that we were, I wasn't going to take a chance with the kids on the back of the bus getting off.

"I cannot cross (the bridge); anytime I get near it, I get really nauseous and sick. I don't feel good about it and I just feel like the 13 people who tried to make it and didn't make it, it just feels like I shouldn't get to make it over there.

"I just get that feeling of something bad's going to happen. I just feel like I can't get away from it and it's not going to go away."
"Well most importantly, I remember the sense of tragedy, the lost lives and the people who were injured, the impact that that would have on families and, of course, the impact of that is still being felt by those families today. Our hearts and prayers and minds have turned to them during this time of anniversary and remembrance.

"I think the state and nation have learned from this in the sense that they've gone out and double-checked and triple-checked bridges to provide some assurance that these bridges are safe for the traveling public."
"When I heard that people and cars were in the water, I knew that meant this was a significant news event. I hopped in a live truck with one of our techs, Jim Biagi, and got to the southeast corner of the bridge.

"Right in front of me was the last span to collapse - the one resting at a 45-degree angle on the south side, with flames licking the concrete and black smoke pouring forth from below.

"I was surprised by the sheer number of people asking if I was alright. It illustrated just how quick the story of a bridge collapse in Minneapolis spread across the country and across the world."
"(My photographer and I) talked our way into the Riverview apartment building and out onto the roof. Step by step, as we were walking to the edge of the building, more and more of the scene came into view. And there it was. It looked like a twisted black ribbon, like a banner that had been laid across the river.

"When the bridge fell, everyone in our state stopped and turned to look. Now for me ... the story has shifted. It used to be a story about a fallen bridge, now it's a story about what's being done about that fallen bridge, and the lives it changed."

Photos: The 35W Bridge Collapse and Aftermath

Timeline of the Bridge Collapse

Aug. 1, 2007

At 6:05 p.m., the Interstate 35W bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapses.

Aug. 2, 2007

An order for a review of bridge inspection processes is issued from Governor Tim Pawlenty’s office. The order also includes an emergency inspection of other, similar bridges.

In the days following the collapse, Pawlenty warns against a rush to judgment about the cause of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, after a misprioritization of earmarks is proposed.

Aug. 6, 2007

FBI and U.S. Navy divers assist at the scene with special equipment to help in the recovery process.

Aug. 20, 2007

The Minnesota Department of Transportation begins demolition of the bridge’s remains, after the recovery process is complete.

Dive teams recover the final victim from the Mississippi River. Greg Jolstad of Mora was a construction worker on the bridge when it collapsed.

Aug. 23, 2007

Preliminary plans for a bridge replacement are made public.

Through September and into October, research and negotiations begin for building a new bridge.

Colorado contractor Flatiron/Manson is selected by MnDOT for the new bridge.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejects a challenge to the state's decision to award the contract to Flatiron/Manson.

Dec. 19, 2007

The state legislature hires special counsel to investigate the 35W bridge collapse.

Dec. 21, 2007

Responding to the order released a day after the collapse, MnDOT crews complete special inspections of roughly 4,000 bridges throughout the state.

Jan. 15, 2008

The National Transportation Safety Board states the bridge collapsed because gusset plates were half as thick as they should have been, due to a flaw in the original design from the 1960s. Board members also criticized Minnesota officials for allowing 287 tons of construction materials to be stockpiled on the bridge’s center on the day of the collapse.

April 8, 2008

Construction of the new bridge reaches the halfway mark.

"I can't say I anticipated this type of progress at this time," project manager Jon Chiglo said.

The Interstate 35W bridge is substantially complete, putting the Flatiron Manson construction team in line for a $25 million bonus.

May 2, 2008

A $38 million deal is reached for bridge collapse victims and Gov. Tim Pawlenty says in a prepared statement that he looks forward to signing the legislation into law.

"It provides needed relief and support for victims and family members directly impacted by the I-35W bridge tragedy," Pawlenty said.

Sept. 18, 2008

The new I-35W bridge opens to traffic, completed even earlier than expected.

April 17, 2009

A panel of lawyers administer a nearly $37 million victim compensation fund created by the state legislature for the victims of the collapse.

July 2, 2009

The new Interstate 35W bridge is named one of the Public Works Projects of the year due to its accelerated construction and the methods used to build it. The American Public Works Association names the bridge to receive its award in the category of Disaster or Emergency Construction and Repair.

July 2009

At the end of July, the state sues URS Corp., the engineering firm that was hired to inspect the 1960s-era bridge and suggest ways to shore it up before it collapsed, claiming the firm “violated the applicable engineering standard of care” and failed to warn the state “of the substantially compromised and urgent hazardous condition of the bridge.”

Nov. 6, 2009

Paving company Progressive Contractors Inc., which was hired to resurface the old 35W bridge, settles with collapse victims, their families and the state of Minnesota.

March 19, 2010

URS Corp. and the state of Minnesota settle the lawsuit filed in July 2009 over the 2007 collapse.

August 23, 2010

Attorneys representing the victims of the 35W bridge collapse announce a $52 million settlement is reached in the lawsuit against URS Corporation. It resolves the last remaining piece of litigation brought forward by victims.

Sept. 9, 2010

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and survivors of the bridge collapse gather to show off renderings for the site of a memorial for the 35W bridge collapse. It is the second design and note the second site for a memorial.

Aug. 2, 2011

The "35W Bridge Remembrance Garden" near Gold Medal park in Minneapolis is dedicated to those affected by the bridge collapse.