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Impatience. Shock. Grief.

August 1, 2007 11:57 PM

This just can't be. I mean, bridges don't collapse. Cars don't plunge into rivers. These things just don't happen. Maybe on TV. Far away. Not here.

Over and over tonight I've heard it said that 100,000 cars crossed that bridge on an average day. You probably crossed it over and over yourself, probably very recently, possibly on the way to or from a game. I certainly have. And I almost crossed it tonight at the very wrong time.

My Receipt

My receipt from Target at the Quarry is stamped 5:54 PM. 35W south is my route home from there, but the entrance ramp was closed due to construction. So I headed toward the East Hennepin ramp.

When I got there, just before 6:00 PM, I could see that the traffic was like a painting, and I realized I was later than planned in heading toward home. I did the mental calculation: a mile and a half to the Hiawatha exit in construction would take about 5 to 10 minutes. The alternate route, city streets to the 10th Avenue bridge, would take about the same amount of time.

The car in front of me headed down the freeway ramp and then stopped. I was prepared to follow it right into stop-n-go purgatory, but in a moment of impatience I made the snap decision to keep moving and opt for the city streets. There was no other reason -- no premonition or ominous feeling or anything. I was simply tired of sitting in traffic.

I figure that I crossed the 10th Avenue bridge a minute or two before the collapse. You can probably see what else I've figured out. And after putting the pieces together, I watched the first couple of hours of coverage through the blinders of shock.

Earlier today, I expended a great deal of effort getting Noah ready for tomorrow. We talked about the train station and the train, the Metrodome and the baseball game, and all the players. ("Who's in the dugout?" "Gardy!") We talked about baseball and the new ballpark all day. We got to the point where he could almost recite back to me the whole schedule we had planned for tomorrow.

I had heard there was grass on the asphalt (thanks, Tube), so I detoured downtown to get some pictures before heading toward the Quarry and my errands.

Turns out there were also tents, and bleachers, and a stage. It's a beautiful sight.

Ready for the ground-breaking party

But the Twins did the right thing in postponing tomorrow's events. There was no other choice. And while I'm disappointed that we won't get to have our baseball day tomorrow, tonight I'm just deeply thankful that my car is not in the river, and that Noah and his mom and I will have another tomorrow together.

Without getting too melodramatic, let's admit that we make hundreds of choices every day which could alter our lives in ways we cannot anticipate. Sure we make plans, but in the end we get what we get. We come to a fork in the road and we take it.

We assume that the bridge won't collapse. We assume that our car won't plunge into the river. We assume we will get to use those tickets. We assume we'll be home for dinner in a few minutes.

And there it is.

My heart goes out to all those touched by this Big Unimaginable. There will be a time for our ballpark celebration. Now is a time to grieve and heal.


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Wow, great story. Good to hear you are alright.

Posted on August 2, 2007 at 11:31 AM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 1

I wanted to bring up an interesting topic and see what some of you others think. I was watching AC-360 the other night on CNN and they ran a segment on the ballpark funding and what the priorities really are in Minnesota. After such a tragedy on 35W, I find it very disrespectful to blame the ballpark project as a higher financing priority than roads/transportion. In reality, roads and bridges are a national problem, not just in Minnesota. Also, the ballpark is being subsidized by the public through the Hennepin County sales tax, which is a local tax of $ 0.03 on every $20.00 spent. Roads and transportation should be funded through a state-wide gas tax or some other statewide tax. It's just ridiculous to blame this ballpark project as a "higher priority" than roads and bridges and more importantly, we should be keeping our thoughts and prayers with all of those involved in such a terrible tragedy.

Posted on August 4, 2007 at 4:02 PM by John Highlight this comment 2

John - I wholeheartedly agree with you. I happened to write my last couple of posts about that topic on my blog. If you are interested, please click on my name.

Jeff T.

Posted on August 4, 2007 at 7:58 PM by Jeff T. Highlight this comment 3

Good post John and I agree completely.

Posted on August 5, 2007 at 10:27 AM by IowaWigman Highlight this comment 4

I don't think the Twins need to do a big, extravagant groundbreaking anyway. I realize this project has been a long time in the making and it's construction start is something to be appreciated and welcomed. I don't think the fans need this, though. Looking at the photos from last week, it looked exactly like when the Yankees broke ground. The grass, bleachers, etc. Fans have been waiting patiently for a long time to see tangible work on this project and I'd rather just see them get on with it. Especially in light of the bridge collapse, we don't need to be reminded once again for the umpteenth time by stadium opponents that we're being taxed for an entertainment. Just turn some dirt and start driving pilings already. A quiet start then have the big celebration when baseball is ready to be played under the skies after nearly 30 years.

Posted on August 5, 2007 at 9:57 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 5

I really thought the piece on CNN was crass and poorly researched... but then it is CNN. It's really just added to my enmity with the national media in the wake of this incident. They've botched a lot of very basic things about our cities and frankly, I think all would be served if they just went ahead and left.

But the CNN piece was particularly grating... to cite Leslie Davis (!) a man so discredited that he can't get a local tv appearance is just pathetic.

As for the merits of their argument... obviously insane. To imply that government cannot focus on more than one thing at a time is juvenile. More galling was that it was billed as "keeping them honest" yet nobody was presented to counter their contention, or explain the actual facts.

It was Bush league... which sadly is pretty much all we've gotten from the national media.

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 10:28 AM by CJ Highlight this comment 6

On the other hand, CJ, the LOCAL media as a whole has really risen to the occasion. The coverage in the Star Tribune has been stellar, both in content and form. Some of the writing has been truly outstanding, and they've been telling exactly the right stories.

And the television coverage, especially on KSTP channel 5, was unexpectedly dignified and substantial.

As for the national coverage, I've only seen the News Hour (PBS) and heard some on NPR. All of it has been quite thorough and dignified.

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 11:04 AM by Rick 7

I think your approval or disapproval of a particular media slant is in direct proportion to the amount you agree or disagree with its position. Very little has to do with facts.

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 11:22 AM by Botz Highlight this comment 8

There's always some of that, Botz. But my comments are strictly meant to apply to the quality of the writing and the depth and breadth of the coverage.

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 12:56 PM by Rick 9

indeed, mine too. my beef with cnn in this case is their lack of research, or attempting generally to seek out qualified local sources for information. fox and msnbc were also guilty of a lot of these mistakes, i single out CNN though because they used Randi Kaye as a "local expert" and yet she got more wrong than the lot of them.

as for local coverage, i have to agree. generally it has been factual without being ghoulish, it's been reverent without being maudlin, it's been informative and helpful for locals without fearmongering.

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 4:21 PM by cj Highlight this comment 10

Gee - Us locals rush to the rescue like no other AND we report the news better than anyone. Are there no limits to "Minnesotan greatness?" Sheesh, if I witness one more of "us" trying to break our arms while patting ourselves on the back, I think I'll puke!

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 9:16 PM by DD Highlight this comment 11

DD, the local media hasn't been challenged like this in a very long time. For the most part, they tend to basically sleep-walk through news coverage. This type of event is where we find out what they're made of.

So nobody's saying the media here is better than anywhere else. But I am saying that they rose to the challenge. That is something worth acknowledging and celebrating.

It's also highly appropriate to celebrate heroic deeds in any context. I've not heard anyone say that Minnesota heroes are somehow better than heroes anywhere else.

People who put their own life in jeopardy to save another are deserving of society's gratitude -- regardless of how or where they found themselves in a position to do so.

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 9:49 PM by Rick 12

Rick - I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Check the link in my name (while I go puke). Minnesotan's are notorious for calling attention to each others benevolence even though it's nothing more than what should be expected in a civilized society.

And I guess its a "sign-o-the-times" when news media get props for doing their job. What a country!

Posted on August 6, 2007 at 9:57 PM by DD Highlight this comment 13

Um, that's a letter to the editor... that isn't proof of anything other than what that particular person wrote. You're right, what we should do is make sure that every mention of something someone has done right is balanced with either something they have done wrong or a tale of someone who has done it better. That's idiotic.

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 07:40 AM by Neil Highlight this comment 14

Wow. Ok so did you puke when we heard all the stories about how New Yorkers banded together and the city was silent the days after 9-11. Get real DD its perfectly normal and warranted for a region to have pride in itself for how it responds to adversity.

It's called pride and there is nothing wrong with having some when a city is in shock.

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 09:49 AM by Moda253 Highlight this comment 15

dd... i guess some of us have just spent the last 7 years watching the media generally be asleep at the switch. when you expectations have been lowered for 7 years... you tend to be surprised when they get something right.

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 10:52 AM by cj Highlight this comment 16

So in 1999 the media was wide awake?

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 3:24 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 17

Any word on if/when the Twins are rescheduling their ground breaking and when they will release their newly revised, revised schematics?

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 4:43 PM by Kup Highlight this comment 18

Civic pride is different than reading article after story of how "Minnesotan" it is to respond this way during a tragedy. It has nothing to do with being Minnesotan. How about just being a member of the human race?

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 6:16 PM by DD Highlight this comment 19

I think a couple weeks, when the team is back in town from this roadtrip. Pile driving is scheduled to start in late August.

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 7:40 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 20

Wednesday, August 22 jumps off the schedule at me. The game is at 12:10 which means they could use the same schedule as originally planned.

Posted on August 7, 2007 at 7:46 PM by Rick 21

As much as it pains me to say it (and I was very much planning on going) - i think the Twins should just skip the groundbreaking altogether and simply start building. Having a groundbreaking celebration so near the bridge collapse would be seen by a great many people to be in poor taste, and I would be one of them.

We can celebrate with the Twins on Opening Day 2010.

Posted on August 8, 2007 at 2:53 PM by Barry Highlight this comment 22

may i ask why it's in poor taste? is it because you think we have misplaced priorities and the ballpark is one big fat target for that? if that's the case then new york shouldn't be constructing two ballparks and a basketball arena because 9/11 happened and new orleans shouldn't have reconstructed the damaged superdome. i agree that they should just start building, (and they in essence already are), but i can understand the team's desire to mark this occasion. i certainly don't think the ceremony itself will be in poor taste, in fact, i think they'll probably incorporate some elements to remember the bridge collapse and those who helped rescue people. i can see your argument but i'd rather not let the nick coleman's of this world dictate what's acceptable and what's not. to point to things they see as trivial waste and make me feel guilty for enjoying it. it's the old what should taxpayer money be used for? zoos? theaters? i'd rather just get on it with and not give the naysayers more ammunition for their finger waving. the twins want to mark this event. it will be done in a tasteful way i'm sure.

Posted on August 8, 2007 at 6:45 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 23

I generally like Nick's pieces in the strib, but he really wrote some stupid stuff the day after the collapse.

Personally, I just can't shake the feeling that there's something macabre about the whole thing. Much like the Superdome - some horrible horrible stuff went down there, and I imagine there are thousands of people who just can't imagine ever going there again. I just don't want anyone feeling that way about the Twins stadium.

I think if you were to try to argue that this city/county/state/country does NOT have misplaced priorities you would not find a lot of allies. I really want a new Twins stadium, heck I'm pinning my financial future to it having purchased a loft 5 blocks from it in the North Loop! But the sad reality is that only a small minority of people in Mpls and Hennepin County wanted the stadium and now it just feels like salt in the wound. I hope in a few weeks I don't feel this way, but I know that if they had the groundbreaking today - I wouldn't feel like going.

Posted on August 9, 2007 at 1:39 PM by Barry Highlight this comment 24


First of all please don't even try to equate the boondaggle of what happened in the aftermath of Katria to the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Your are simply trying to be dramatic & completely missing the point. Minneapolis along with the county & state have handled a very unfortunate & tragic event exceptionally well.

Second, as Rick, CJ & others have already stated very well the new stadiums in Minneapolis (Twins, Gophers & hopefully Vikings) and transporation funding are NOT mutually exclusive. And don't have to be. That is a warped mentality that some ultra-liberal Democrat or ultra-conservative Republican has bashed into your skull as a false truth. You can do both and you can do both well. That POV is usually where the moderates - read majority - live.

What legitimate proof do you have which shows no one (minority) in Mpls & Hennepin Country wanted a new Twins stadium? Polls on how they wanted to finance it & whether deep down they want a new stadium are two different things. I would venture your opinion is actually the minority view. The moderates in the Twins Cities - again read majority - do want to invest in great urban venues (i.e. Guthrie, Walker, Twins ballpark, Mpls Central Library, MIA, etc, etc.) Also, having great urban stadiums where the populous can go watch the Twins, Gophers, Vikings, Wild & T-Wolves throughout the year is an integral part of what makes an urban area great & livable for the vast majority of people, not the minority like you try to make it appear. Stadiums (privately or publically financed) like transportation infrastructure need to be replaced over time.

Finally, I am a solid blue moderate Democrat, but I do have to say that I agree with Tim that I am not going to let the knee-jerk loud mouths of this world like Nick Coleman (or Sean Hannity on the right for that matter) dictate what's acceptable and what's not. I will enjoy (along with the majority of the Minneapolis metro) having a new Twins ballpark downtown that I will be very proud of. One that is spurring additional development & population growth in the surrounding Mpls neighborhood. I am not going to be lulled into a feeling of guilt about building it or how it was financed like some on each end of the extremes would like to see.

Posted on August 10, 2007 at 12:51 AM by betaband Highlight this comment 25

I could not agree with you any more betaband! I totally agree with you 100% and it is a very good post.

Posted on August 13, 2007 at 1:21 PM by Luke Highlight this comment 26

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