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U.S. Federal and Minnesota Information on I-35W Bridge

In light of the complete collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN on August 1, 2007, I put together a list of links to materials on bridges generally and that bridge specifically at the Government Publications Library website.

Noteworthy from a government information perspective:

1. The “2001 report” variously described as authored by the UMN Dept. of Civil Engineering and/or the MN Dept. of Transportation (MN/DOT) is cataloged by the MN/DOT Library, but lives at a non-governmental website.

2. Because the title of this report (“Fatigue Evaluation of the Deck Truss of Bridge 9340”) contains no terms I first thought to use to find it, I had to spend some time on news sites in the hope of finding a link to the full text. Of course, once you’ve got the title right, it turns out that it’s described in many places in addition to MN/DOT’s catalog including the University’s Center for Transportation Studies and TRIS Online.

3. Political expediency is the name of the game. Finding reports on this particular bridge even earlier today wasn’t as easy as I would have liked. Throughout the day though, MN/DOT has been adding links to various reports on the bridge to their homepage. Some are cataloged by the MN/DOT Library, some aren’t. I haven’t read through them all yet, but I note that they have yet to link to the one definite source of negative information on the bridge, namely the National Bridge Inventory ASCII files.

4. The National Bridge Inventory ASCII files are not user friendly. They are in fixed-width format and have a zillion fields. Even if I had proper software for handling files of this type (and I don’t ’cause I’m breaking in a new computer and still figuring out what I need), it would be a drag to create the setup files because of the way the record layout is, well, laid out. If there’s a summary of the results, I haven’t found it yet.

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