That was a local event for me, it wasn't that far from where I lived and it was the local station (WRGB, Channel 6 - first TV station in the US) which had footage of the collapse. By sheer coincidence they were just down stream doing a story on the spring flooding and the unusually high streams when the span gave. The sound alerted them and they were able to get some of the ongoing collapse on camera. Five vehicles went in, 10 people died. One body wasn't found for months - it was swept down stream into the Mohawk River, and from there into the Hudson.
Somewhere in my collection of old video tapes is a tape with some of the breaking story, I was recording something else.
This week I recorded 'Building The Ultimate' off The Science Channel and this episode was on bridges. They just showed that old footage when they were talking about the dangers of scour and bridge design. That's something I hadn't thought of in a long time.
I remember they rerouted the Thruway - took over a surface roadbridge and an old railroad bridge that were just upstream. They decked and paved the RR bridge and cut off the surface street, ran the Thruway over, across those bridges, and then back to the normal routing. Then they rebuilt the bridges. I haven't driven through that area in a while, but I recall that for a long time there were still the cut-over paved areas. If you didn't know what they were it looked like some kind of odd abandoned on/off ramps. But not quite since there were two parallel courses, and you could follow the paths over to the old bridges. I bet a lot of people drove through there over the years and wondered what was up with those paved strips, no longer connected to anything. Closing that surface road (Rt. 5?) was a stink because it was the local connection and it cut a town in half, and made emergency services have to go the long way around, etc.
17 years ago. It doesn't seem real, that much time...