David Levinson's Networks, Economics and Urban Systems Research Group

Background - Ongoing Projects - Completed Projects - Reports - Movies - Presentations - Media - Contacts


The I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed on August 1st, 2007. This tragedy has led to significant losses. For planners and traffic engineers, this event also brought a great challenge in traffic management and sequential mitigation approaches. An understanding of its impacts on travel behavior is the first, and arguably the most important step to maintain and improve good functioning of our traffic network. To see some evidence of change in travel behavior, and for additional information please refer to the following:

The Transportationist: I-35W bridge collapse - What happened on August 1st and after

Description from Wikipedia

Reaction from Minnesota Department of Transportation

Completed Projects

Traffic Flow and Road User Impacts of the Collapse of the I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi River Minnesota Department of Transportation
Cost: $200,502. Time: Two years (June 1, 2008 - May 31, 2010)

Additional Support: University of Minnesota Metropolitan Consortium ($30,000)

David Levinson (PI), Henry Liu (co-PI), Kathleen Harder (co-PI)

with Vehicle Monitoring Technologies (Randall Guensler, Jennifer Ogle)

BRIDGE: Behavioral Response to the I-35W Disruption: Gauging Equilibration National Science Foundation
Cost: $300,000. Time: Two years (October 1, 2008 - September 30, 2010)

Henry Liu (PI), David Levinson (co-PI), Kathleen Harder (co-PI), Nikolas Geroliminas (investigator)

Small Grant for Exploratory Research: Responding to the Unexpected: Understanding Travelers' Behavioral Choices in the Wake of the Mississippi River Bridge Collapse. National Science Foundation
Cost: $17,000. Time: One year.

Henry Liu (PI), David Levinson (co-PI), Kathleen Harder (co-PI)


Levinson, D. et al. (2010) Traffic Flow and Road User Impacts of the Collapse of the I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi River

Zhu, S, D. Levinson, H. Liu, and K. Harder (2008) The traffic and behavioral effects of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse (under review)

Xie, F. and D. Levinson (2008) Evaluating the Effects of I-35W Bridge Collapse on Road-Users in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Region (under review)

He, Xiaozheng, Saif Jabari, and Henry X. Liu (2008) Modeling Day-to-day Trip Choice Evolution under Network Disruption (under review)

Tilahun, Nebiyou and David Levinson (2008) I-35w Bridge Collapse: Travel Impacts and Adjustment Strategies(working paper).


Shanjiang Zhu (September 2010- PhD Civil Engineering) Thesis: The Roads Taken: Theory and Evidence on Route Choice in the wake of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge Collapse and Reconstruction

Sean He (October 2010- PhD Civil Engineering) Thesis: Modeling the Traffic Flow Evolution Process after a Network Disruption


I-35W Bridge Collapse: Difference in Daily Traffic Counts after - before 20 MB

I-35W Bridge Collapse: 15 Minute Traffic Patterns on August 1 (August 1 - July 25) 20 MB


  • Liu, Henry (2007) I-35W Presentation
  • Liu, Henry (2008) I-35W Presentation (August 7, 2008)
  • Levinson, David (2007) The Cost of Frugality. 2007 James L. Oberstar Forum on Transportation Policy and Technology
  • Media

    StarTribune Coverage

    Adaptable drivers avert expected gridlock by Jim Foti and Pam Louwagle (Sept. 10, 2007)

    Editorial: Lessons of adversity in bridge collapse: Commuter creativity is worth studying. (Sept. 13, 2007)

    MPR Coverage

    I-35W bridge collapse could produce U of M traffic headaches by Art Hughes, Minnesota Public Radio (August 30, 2007)

    Newsweek Coverage

    CAMPAIGN 2008: Bridge to the GOP: Will the Twin Cities be ready for the Republican convention? by Hilary Shenfeld (Jun 17, 2008)



    Contact Information:

    David Levinson or Henry Liu

    Department of Civil Engineering

    University of Minnesota

    500 Pillsbury Drive S.E.

    Minneapolis, MN 55455