Council to declare state of emergency: Talks on future without bridge to begin this week

Share this:
July 23, 2007 // UPDATED 1:19 pm - August 2, 2007
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
The Minneapolis City Council took a first step toward declaring a state of emergency Thursday morning, a day after the collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River.

The City Council discussed a disaster resolution that will be voted on in their meeting Friday. Once passed, the resolution will help the city access emergency funding for clean-up and recovery.

Council members said the city had already received $5 million in emergency funds from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Following the meeting, council members left at 11 a.m. for a tour of the disaster site. A special Metro Transit bus was to take council member over the 10th Avenue Bridge to view recovery efforts.

Prior to leaving on the tour, Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) called the bridge collapse a “terrible tragedy” but declined to comment further. Goodman said she was not near the bridge when it collapsed and had little information on the catastrophe.

Council Member Diane Hofstede (3rd Ward), who represents the Marcy Holmes neighborhood on the north end of the bridge, said she was about three blocks from the bridge when it collapsed.

Hofstede said she immediately left her meeting at the Dunn Bros Coffee shop at 530 University Ave. NE and walked to the north end of the bridge, which was already swarming with emergency vehicles.

“I attended a meeting and one of the individuals who attended the meeting, his wife actually had just crossed the bridge,” she said.

Hofstede said that woman made it across the bridge safely, but her thoughts quickly turned to casualties and their loved ones.

She said she was comforted to know the city had an emergency response plan in place, and saw that it was being carried out.

“Not a moment did I ever think that we were not going to rise to the occasion,” she said.

She noted that area businesses, including Target, Panera Bread and Caribou Coffee quickly arrived on site with food and water for first responders. She also thanked those bystanders who rushed to the aid of victims.

“I will say that the crowd was respectful, helpful and very cooperative,” she said.

Hofstede planning for life without the bridge will begin this week.

“The council members and our department heads, we’re already talking about setting up meetings this week to begin planning for not only the new bridge but a transportation plan,” Hofstede said. “Obviously, the loss of this bridge is going to dramatically affect the areas (nearby), and so we need to plan for that and, of course, how we’re going to pay for it.”

“I hope that we will recognize that we have some infrastructure needs, and that the infrastructure needs we can’t ignore,” she said.