Last August, the collapse of the 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis captured national attention. Though the loss of life was significantly less than it could have been, the idea that a collapse could and did happen had people cringing and gritting their teeth whenever their crossed any bridge.
A new bridge was being planned within hours of the demise of the old one. Local politicians pushed for and received federal funding to aid in both the clean-up and construction of a new span. The new structure was slated to open at the end of this year, but finished ahead a schedule. I drove across it for the first time this morning. It…well…looked like a bridge, but I guess that was what they were going for. Nothing spectacular, but seemingly sturdy.
Here’s the problem I have with the new 35W Bridge. It was completed quickly because politicians and the Department of Transportation’s had their necks on the line. Meanwhile, the Wakota Bridge, connecting the Twin Cities to the eastern suburbs and Wisconsin has been floundering in a state of half-completeness for as long as I can remember. On separate occasions, engineering mistakes and a budget crunch have halted work for months at a time. Sure, the new 35W bridge is awesome, but out of the spotlight, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is lacking. Readers: Is your state’s DoT as inept, or is it just me?