We went down to the river this morning to see what we could see. As I mentioned, it hardly seems real or possible. The Stone Arch Bridge was closed off so we couldn't get that vantage point. We walked down to the new Guthrie to use their 'Bridge to Infinity' or whatever it's called. You know, the stalk that juts out towards the river. From there we could see a bit of the north end and nothing more.
It wasn't really satisfying and I think we both felt a little ghoulish. Not that we were alone down there. Probably a couple hundred people were also trying to find a spot to see it all. Is this wrong? I'm going to say 'no'. This is a reasonable reaction to want actual visual evidence that something big has happened. Especially when you're near something historic. That doesn't diminish our sympathy for the dead and injured.
One of the big stories from this is the numerous accounts of heroism. Many people rushed to the accident to help save people. Other people got out of their cars and didn't leave the bridge until they'd helped everyone they could. This really is humanity at it's best and that should be recognized and celebrated.
Humanity at it's worst? The people that are quick to use this to blame others for political gain. Last decades road and bridge budget could have been doubled and no one would have proposed replacing this bridge. It could have been ten times it's current size and it wouldn't have happened. If this was a fatigue collapse (which seems most likely), then it happened because we don't have enough knowledge of what level of fatigue is critical with this type of bridge. (Isn't this obvious?)
There will be thousands (maybe millions) of Minnesotans who hold their breath the next time they go over one of our bridges. That's understandable. So is the fact that they'll get over it in time. They'll get back on that horse and drive.
Is there a lesson here? I don't really know. It's human nature to look for some all encompassing moral of the story but that doesn't mean there is one. Maybe the lesson is that bad things sometimes happen. Maybe the lesson is that one should always be ready to get moving if catastrophe strikes. Or maybe it's a lesson to love the people around you because you don't really know what tomorrow brings.