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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast

Lessons from the Hoan Bridge

MINNEAPOLIS BRIDGE FROM SAME ERA

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I'm not an engineer, but if I were investigating the collapse of the 35 W bridge in Minneapolis, I'd pull the file on Milwaukee's own Hoan Bridge.

It was the time we all learned just how much we relied on the "Bridge to Nowhere." December of 2000, two steel girders cracked in the northbound lanes of the Hoan. The bridge was closed for months. A little inside info... we fixed a camera on the damaged section and rolled tape 24-hours a day just in case the bridge would suddenly fall apart.

Of course that never happened.

The investigation into the failure revealed a number of factors that contributed to the giant cracks. Among those reasons: flawed design, and outmoded welding techniques. It's how they made bridges back in the day... all of them. Engineers discovered some of the very pieces installed on the bridge to make it stronger... actually made it more likely to crack under certain stresses.

It may have nothing to do with it... but it's certainly a question worth asking as investigators look into the 35W collapse. Is this vintage of bridge inherently unsafe?

I'm sure many readers have traveled this very bridge. It's right near the Metrodome, so any visit to watch the Pack, Brewers, or Badgers over the years may have included a trip over this ill-fated span.

So many of us have ties to the area as well, so our thoughts are with our next door neighbors.

emails: vvitrano@todaystmj4.com

 

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