(May 20, 4:43 p.m.) MINNEAPOLIS — Just about everyone remembers what they were doing when the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed.

The event, which happened during rush hour traffic on Aug. 1, immediately captured the country’s attention. Thirteen people were killed and 145 injured.

“I had gone over it that morning,” said Dean Balzum, produce specialist and merchandiser for Woodbury-based Kowalski’s Markets.

Immediate thoughts were for the safety of employees and their families, said Tom Rodmyre, warehouse manager for St. Paul-based Co-op Partners Warehouse.

“We started calling people to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be,” he said.

Fortunately for the produce business, the bridge collapse has caused few issues.

“I thought it was going to make a mess of everything,” said Paul Piazza Sr., president of Minnesota Produce. “In terms of my employees and the route they come to work and where our customers are in town, it made zero difference.”

The bulk of businesses are along the Interstate 94 corridor, Piazza said, which, other than the usual detours and road construction, is running smoothly.

Marilou Owen and Pat Greene, co-owners of GO Fresh Inc., a fresh-cut processor not far from the bridge said traffic on their street has picked up, but the city’s response was rapid.

“Within the day they had State Highway 280 open as a freeway,” Owen said.

Rodmyre said traffic has had to be rerouted in some cases.

“Rush hour is interesting,” he said. “People find other ways to get around.”

He estimated the rerouting has added another 5% to the cost of transportation.

Work continues on the reconstruction of the bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation, working on construction of a new bridge, estimates that traffic can resume by the end of September and construction will be complete by the end of December.

The new bridge, with an estimated cost of $234 million, is designed to have 10 lanes of traffic, which is two more than the previous bridge had.

It also is designed to have a 13-foot shoulder on the right side and a 14-foot shoulder on the left side. The previous bridge had no shoulders. It also is equipped to handle light rail transport.

The department estimates about 140,000 vehicles a day passed over the bridge and the detours and delays cost $400,000 per day in lost revenue, increased commuter expenses and burden on surrounding roads.

In the meantime, traffic is detoured on State Highway 280.

Minnesota bridge could be completed by December
The new Interstate 35W bridge, with an estimated cost of $234 million, is designed to have 10 lanes of traffic, which is two more than the previous bridge had.