Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I-35 Bridge Reopens

Interstate 35 bridge reopens following last year's deadly collapse.
Thirteen months after a bridge collapse killed 13 people in Minnesota, a new 10-lane structure reopens to traffic Thursday morning. At 5 am tomorrow morning, emergency vehicles will line up slowly in the north and southbound lanes. At that time, they will drive at 15 mph and slowly pass each other, marking the quiet opening of this important bridge that crosses the Mississippi River.

The bridge is reopening over 3 months before its earlier projected date, which is a real blessing to the hundreds of thousands who have had to take alternate routes. It is a state of the art structure that is predicted to stand 100 years or longer.

The bridge is made with safety features “no one has ever built before” including 300 sensors placed in the concrete which will monitor the bridge structure. It is believed to be the first bridge ever to use LED lights, which they say is quite impressive. I haven't been to the site in quite awhile, but am anxious to drive over the bridge at night to see this for myself.

As the bridge opens to traffic, MnDOT will be monitoring the strength of the concrete, the movement of expansion joints and bearings, and other important signs through the installed sensors.

Engineers will now have all the information on the bridge needed to identify warning signs in real time instead of photographs every two years.

A memorial to the 13 victims is going to be erected in the Gold Medal Park where family members gathered last August to wait and pray for their loved ones to be rescued.

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