Thursday morning finds divers and other rescue workers combing the Mississippi River in central Minneapolis still looking for victims of an interstate bridge collapse. Four people are confirmed dead, lowering fatality reports from last night.
Minnesota State Senator Mary Olson (District 4) reports that she and family were traveling within sight of the I-35 W Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis five minutes before it collapsed.
“We could see vehicles in the River. It is just terrible when you think of the vulnerability all of us have regarding the safety of our bridges,” Olson said.
“The first thing we have to remember at this time is the aid and comfort we must provide to the victims and their families. Olson, a freshman Senator, added “that being said, we have a responsibility to the public to determine exactly what went wrong.”
Olson reports that vehicles are still visible in the crushed remnants of Interstate 35W and she will be on site all day, today, Thursday.
Twenty people are missing.
The bridge, a main artery for the cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, normally handles 100,000 cars per day in eight lanes of traffic. The Minnesota department of Transportation (MnDOT) says that due to construction, only two lanes were open at the time of the collapse.
On July 31, MnDOT issued a press release announcing that the I-35W would narrow to one lane in Minneapolis over two nights on July 31 and August 1. Nighttime bridge overlay work will require Minnesota Department of Transportation crews to temporarily restrict traffic to a single lane on I-35W, the release said.
“The northbound lanes of I-35W between I-94 and Highway 36 will be restricted to a single lane from 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, through 5 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 and again from 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, through 5 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 2.”
The bridge collapsed at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 1.