How Safe Are The Bridges in Your Patch?

Immediately after the I-35W bridge collapse, bridge safety was listed as a high priority. Has the initial sense of urgency made a difference five years later?

When the I-35W bridge collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007, elected officials were stunned and appalled. They were angry and so were the residents of the state where the collapse occurred. All said they wanted immediate action. In the aftermath, transportation workers across the nation inspect bridges, and officials pledged increased funding for infrastructure.

Five years later, have the pledges for money and the anger about bridge safety resulted in enough repairs?

A story published July 30 in the Star Tribune says "bridge safety still lacks urgency."

The Pioneer Press, however, ran a report on the same day saying bridge repairs in Minnesota are on schedule, according to a Minnesota Department of Transportation timeline. 

What do you think? Answer our poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

For more information about your town's bridges, check out the following Patch stories:

Joe Salmon August 01, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I don't believe that anyone can make an argument for Lite Rail. It is an obsolete method of transportation. One that cost taxpayers who will never use it a great deal of money. Lets stop Lite Rail.
Sean Hayford Oleary August 01, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Carbon: Actually, according to Hennepin County, Hiawatha does 31,500 people per day: http://www.metrocouncil.org/transportation/lrt/lrt.htm. Apparently, "[r]idership on the line already has exceeded the pre-construction estimate for the year 2020." 31,500 still isn't amazing, but it seems better ROI than the Stillwater bridge. And if we compare to traffic on Hiawatha itself, that road gets 22,000 cars/day to 38,000 cars/day, depending on the segment. That means in many portions, more people on the train than on the road. And you're right -- the traffic signals are a mess on Hiawatha. But the project did still involve several improvements for drivers. Instead of going through a tight residential neighborhood south of Minnehaha Creek, a new pseudo-expressway was built around the neighborhood. Additionally, interchanges were built at Lake St and 62 as part of the project. The fact that the state has not upgraded Hiawatha to a freeway or expressway I think is mainly due to neighborhood and Minneapolis opposition -- Hiawatha has huge right of way, and there probably is still room. But I don't think a freeway would create value for Minneapolis in the way LRT has: can you picture condo developments popping up left and right, advertising their proximity to the new Hiawatha Freeway? I don't think so; like 35W, a Hiawatha Freeway would be a drain on its immediate neighbors. The LRT is an asset, both immediately and across the city.
Carbon Bigfuut August 01, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I'm not a big fan of LRT, but I will admit that is has a function. The connection between downtown Mpls., the airport, and MOA is a plus for all 3 locations. However, both the Hiawatha and University Ave. locations, there are existing RR corridors within a block of those streets. Why was it a requirement that the new University LRT corridor encroach onto existing streets? What is going in does more to disrupt traffic on the roadways than help it. On the Hiawatha corridor, a simple grade separation of the tracks from the crossing roadways would have made a major difference.
Sean Hayford Oleary August 01, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Carbon: I totally agree about grade separation for Hiawatha -- it would have improved traffic flow for cars and pedestrians, and probably would have saved lives at those grade crossings. As for Central Corridor, the existing rail corridor (along Pierce Butler Rte) might have worked for getting people between the downtowns, but it would have robbed the Midway of a bunch of stations and access to businesses. Remember, people riding Light Rail have a bike at most -- and usually just their own two feet. The stations have to be *very close* to the destinations. Since the destinations are on University Ave, it makes much more sense to build Light Rail there than along Pierce Butler Rte. The impact was mitigated, too: instead of cutting into travel space, they cut out parking and tightened up lanes. While I'm sure turning and crossing will be a bit slower than it was before, four lanes were preserved throughout. And if cars *really* have to move faster, I-94 is just a few blocks to the south.
Carbon Bigfuut August 02, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Actually, I didn't mean the Pierce-Butler area, I meant the rail corridor 1 block south of much of University Ave. Note that once again, on University Ave., the tracks are at street level. The old joke is that the local politicians wanted light rail trains in the worst way. And that's just we got them...in the worst way. Another part of LRT that you almost touched on is "express trains". With the current trackage, there is no way to have express trains that run only between the major stops (downtown Mpls, MSP airport, Ft. Snelling, MOA). That would also help ridership, and I think you'd only need maybe 2 bypass tracks along the Hiawatha route if you timed the trains right.


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