Tonight I drove home like always and turned off the freeway onto Hiawatha Avenue, which splits off of 35W southbound. Usually it's still pretty messy just after 6 pm and I have to fight traffic, but there was NO ONE on the road.
I got home and found out why.
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The Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during the evening rush hour Wednesday, dumping at least eight cars and a truck into the water and onto the land below, creating a horrific scene of damage, fire, smoke, injuries, frantic rescuers and terrified motorists.
It was not clear how many people might be hurt or killed, but witnesses said at least 20 cars were involved.
Multiple trauma victims -- some in critical condition -- have been taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.
The crumpled green wreckage of the bridge lay on the east bank of the river, and a huge section of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Down below in the river gorge, rescue workers scrambled to help people on the roadway that now lay in the gorge. Fires burned and black smoke rose billowed the wreckage.
Workers have been repairing the 40-year-old bridge’s surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate.
Rescue workers were helping some people from cars in the river onto land.
People at the scene said the entire bridge collapsed, leaving part of the roadway submerged and part above water.
The arched bridge, which was built in 1967, rises about 64 feet above the river.
The collapse occurred at the end of rush hour, when cars were bumper to bumper in traffic, many trying to get to the Twins game at the nearby Metrodome, which was scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m.
Area law enforcement, including the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, had launched at least three boats to help with the rescues.
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And also? We have been desperate for rain for days. And we're finally going to get some. There are storms coming. I can hear the thunder. And there are injured people, and probably dead people, in the middle of the river.