Working at MapQuest we strive to stay abreast of road-related problems nationwide. When there’s a serious one (a significant safety hazard and/or a situation that impacts many people) we jump on it as soon as we can. Even though we keep a lookout for problems, it’s jarring, nonetheless, when a significant emergency occurs.
This was the case on August 1, 2007, when we saw, in real time, the the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. First there was shock, and then MapQuest teammates familiar with that part of Minneapolis began discussing alternate routes and how disruptive this would be to the area. Looking for some way to help, our Customer Support team reached out to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) which initiated a rapid series of conversations about Mn/DOT’s preferred detour routes. Mn/DOT set up the closures and detours necessary to keep traffic moving safely and to avoid impacting emergency crews and rescue workers.
The MapQuest data and operations specialists quickly dropped other work and adjusted our routing data to reflect those changes. We were the first to reflect the bridge and road closures on our site. Mn/DOT appreciated the effort, and they have kept in touch, periodically sending updates as the work has progressed.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation
When the word went out last week that the new St. Anthony Falls Bridge would be opening yesterday, MapQuest Customer Support again reached out to our contacts at Mn/DOT and got the scoop. When the opening date and time were decided, our data and ops people again went to work to undo the closures we put in place last year. Those changes went live on MapQuest.com yesterday and again, we were the first to include the reopened bridge on our site.
It was a tragedy for those whose lives were affected by the collapse. They will no doubt feel the pain for the foreseeable future. As a community, however, they can take some solace in knowing Mn/DOT has been able to rebuild a modern, solid, safe bridge significantly ahead of schedule.
We’re glad Minneapolis is getting back to normal, and we’re glad we could help in this small way.