Local Whiners Disappointed With New 35W Bridge Proposal

This past week, Mn/DOT announced the plans for a new bridge to span the Mississippi River in the place where the 35W bridge collapsed. Below is probably the most pleasing design due to the rounded support pillars at each end of the river. There are other slight variations to the lighting and supports of the bridge that are still being decided.

New 35W Bridge Rendering

A quick Google News search to find the plans of the bridge found a lot of complaining about the design, which, of course, is what crowds do best, especially after a tragedy like this. Here's my thoughts (mostly taken from reading the Mn/DOT Press Release and this Pioneer Press article):

  • The bridge looks nice. The subtle curves make it just a bit nicer than the usual freeway bridge. Plus, of course, that's also a structural benefit.
  • The bridge complements the surrounding area well, including the neighboring 10th St./Cedar Ave. Bridge.
  • Of course, all the plans stress safety, including sensors built into the bridge to warn of problems as well as a design that will keep the bridge standing if one part fails.

According to a New York Times article, news/talk pundit Don Shelby says, "It almost looks like a causeway to me. It’s just a way to get from one side to the other." Excuse me? Of course it is! Did you ever look at the old bridge and go, "That's one fine work of art." It looks twice as good as the old bridge, so why all that complaining? According to a number of other articles, the vocal populace seems to have many concerns whether Mn/DOT and the design firm are doing their jobs well enough. If you ask me, the handling of the collapse proves the agencies responsible can handle it well.

Sure, it's not an inspiring and standout memorial of the events of the bridge collapse, but is that really such a bad thing? I guess if we want the evening of August 1st, 2007 to be the defining moment of this generation, then we should get someone like Norman Foster to design an inspiring masterpiece. If we did that, I think the Minneapolis downtown river area would be very overcrowded This tragedy, in my opinion, is not the definition of the Twin Cities and who we are. This bridge will serve as a gentle reminder to all of us and will, more importantly, transport thousands of people safely to and from Minneapolis every day.

On a side note, why are people fine with spending to $243 million (or more like $393 million including collapse clean-up and related construction) on this project when they believe that $800+ million is definitely not worth it to connect Minneapolis and Saint Paul with a light rail line. Sure, it's a more expensive project, but it's a much bigger project and helps the Twin Cities much more than this bridge ever will. Plus, if we don't build a light rail line in the next decade, we will be turning 94 into 10 lanes in about a decade.


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