STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
From Minnesota Public Radio, Michael Caputo reports.
MICHAEL CAPUTO: He credits carpooling, public transportation and adjusted work hours. But Kramascz says a much tougher test is coming next month.
TODD KRAMASCZ: We have to deal with all the school, the college students coming back to school in September. Vacation season is over with. We're going to need to deal with all of that volume as well, and plans are in the works now to shore up some of what we've got available.
CAPUTO: Cromwell Avenue in St. Paul runs along Highway 280. It's a typical street with mature trees draping small lots dotted with cozy older homes. But suddenly Craig Klein's backyard has only a wooden sound barrier between his property and a major traffic artery.
CRAIG KLEIN: It is a lot noisier today than it was last week. You know, since this catastrophe happened, there's no doubt you're going to notice it.
CAPUTO: Trucking firms around the state see a continuing financial headache from the bridge collapse. John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Truckers Association, says nearly 5,000 trucks each day use the route that included the 35-W bridge. Studies by the association conclude that losing the stand would mean more than a $120,000 a day in added operational costs as trucks are diverted to other routes.
JOHN HAUSLADEN: We've had a major artery cut and we re going to have to redirect. The bad news is that it's critical. The good news is that we have other options. But they're going to go down those other roads and it's going to cause delays, it's going to cause congestion, and we're just going to be extra vigilant.
CAPUTO: Hauling freight by barge down the Mississippi is another problem, although it won't have devastating effects. Steve Lenhart, area lockmaster for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says nothing can move from north of here until the debris from the collapse is removed.
STEVE LENHART: They're out of business here. I mean the (unintelligible) it's about eight or nine miles of the channel, they're out of business. So they re going to have to do something else to ship their commodities.
CAPUTO: More generally speaking, economists aren't worried about a major direct economic impact from the loss of the bridge. Instead, Minnesota state economist Tom Stinson worries more about what he calls the hidden costs of the collapse.
TOM STINSON: There are going to be additional commuting time for commuters. That's not going to reduce their consumption. It is going to reduce the time that they have available to do other tasks and other leisure activities.
CAPUTO: With the hopes of keeping things business as usual in his city, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak continues to make a plea to residents to lighten the load on roads by sharing rides and taking the bus.
RYBAK: If people come to you and say that they want to do something in this horrible human tragedy, you need to communicate to them that one of the things they can do that is tangible and really matters is the simple act of turning to a co-worker or a friend who lives near you and say I want to drive with you.
CAPUTO: For NPR News, I'm Michael Caputo.
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