Thursday, August 02, 2007


I'm sure nearly everyone in the world has heard about the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis yesterday. As someone who lived in the Twin Cities for nearly 10 years, two of them very close to that bridge, I can't quite express how mind-boggling this is for me. I've driven over that bridge hundreds of times. Fortunately, I didn't have any family or close friends (that I know of) involved in the accident, but it's still horrifying to have something like that happen in a place you still consider home.

We will be in Minneapolis in just over a week. Normally, we would drive over that bridge on our way from my mom's house in Duluth to our friends' place in the south suburbs. Not this time. I can't believe it's gone.

Life is such a dangerous game. It seems that there are perils lurking around every corner, and yet the vast majority of us manage to keep ourselves alive somehow. It seems silly to worry about things like bridge collapses and airplane crashes which happen so rarely. Why is it that it's so easy to become obsessively fearful about these kinds of things, when it's so much more likely that you'll die in a car crash, or of heart disease or something equally unsensational? I, for one, can't shake my fear of flying and will often spend the entire flight telling myself "well, there are hundreds of other planes in the air right at this minute - why would it be THIS one that would crash? If you believe that, then you should start buying lottery tickets, because that's just as likely..." Sometimes it works, other times I just need to flag down the flight attendant and buy one of those little bottles of wine to calm myself down.

Living in the city of bridges (or "bridgetown", as Portland is often called), it's difficult to get anywhere without crossing some sort of chasm at some point during the day. There's an urban legend about one of the big double-decker bridges in Portland that the engineer who designed it won't drive over it because he doesn't think it's safe. I drive over this bridge at least once a week. I hold my breath every time.


Blogger lexa said...

I saw that on the news last night -- talk about scary! Late last summer an overpass in Quebec collapsed on cars. My husband drives that road all the time, goes under that overpass all the time. Scary. (He wasn't on the road when that happened.) Makes you wonder if the powers that be really keep a close enough eye on the structural integrity of that kind of stuff. They had reports of pieces of concrete falling off of the Quebec overpass the morning that it collapsed, but the authorities didn't shut it down or post any warnings.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought about you when I heard the news about the bridge. I've been on that bridge several times myself when visiting family. I'm so glad to hear that your friends and loved ones are safe.
I've also heard the urban legend about the local bridge and the engineer's refusal to drive on it. It is such a thought-provoking phenomenon that life is so fragile when sometimes it feels like we could live forever. That's why it's so important to live each day to its fullest, and make sure that the ones you love know that you love them.
Have a safe trip.

4:36 PM  
Blogger msubulldog said...

I hear the Sellwood is scary dangerous, though. . . too bad there's a yarn store on the other end or I might just have to stop using it. Ha,ha,ha. :)

10:04 PM  

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