I love trains. I love any kind of train. I find security and assurance in the fact that they must travel along a track. Also, only one train can travel along a section of track at one time. I think think means that to have all the trains on any one track at any one time arrive at their destination safely, they must be on a strict and reliable schedule. Trains also feel safe, I imagine this intricate system of checks and balances based on the tested systems of engineers (both train and mechanical). This all of course works in collaboration with the state and federal government who constantly make sure all the systems are working. Of course we are safe, this is America. Right? Until a few years ago, I would have not questioned this notion. Not until this happened….
This is not the best picture, but it was hard to get a good vantage point of the collapsed 35W bridge. This bridge in Minneapolis, about a mile from my house, fell down in August 2007. It just fell. During rush hour, packed with cars, it just fell. There are many tragic and heroic stories that go along with this bridge falling down, none of them happened to me. Something far less dramatic happened to me. Whatever faith I had left in “the system” totally disappeared.
They built this new bridge in less than a year. At night it glows in different colors, you can’t miss it. That is unless you are on it. Most people would not know they were crossing a bridge if they didn’t know that the previous one fell down. Or, if they were my friend Chris with Down’s Syndrome. I think he cries every time he crosses it. Which at first seemed a strange overreaction, now I think he is probably not the only one.
What was left of this tragedy, besides broken hearts and a lingering distrust in America, lies just down the river. I call it the bridge graveyard. The pieces of twisted steel, that were quickly salvaged from the floor of the Mississippi, are located just down river from where it fell down in a, now fenced off, park called Bohemian Flats. It is really creepy, you can drive right by it, and see it from many other bridges crossing the river. Apparently, they have to keep it until all the pending lawsuits are resolved. This could be many many years. I heard they are building a huge warehouse out of town where the bridge parts will eventually go to live. Until then, it makes quite a memorial.
Oh, and yes, this post was originally supposed to be about trains. Tomorrow I guess.