At a presentation at De LaSalle High School May 30, Steve Fletcher, Third Ward Council Member, provided updates regarding the rehab projects to three bridges crossing the Mississippi into Northeast Minneapolis. Due to their age, large amounts of traffic and climate conditions, these projects are necessary to preserve Minneapolis’ infrastructure system.
10th Avenue Bridge
The 10th Avenue Bridge is a rehabilitation project to improve the traffic flows for numerous types of commuters – cars, bikes and pedestrians. Providing a safer passage for large numbers of students who use the bike lane to reach campus daily is a priority. The design will remain historically preserved while balancing the community’s safety needs to slow down traffic.
As a city project, the funding for this project comes from the capital budget. Once the construction starts in Fall of 2019, the bridge’s entire deck will be taken off for repairs; this endeavor is predicted to be completed mid-2021. At that time, construction on the 3rd Avenue Bridge will begin.
3rd Avenue Bridge
Extensive work must be done to rehabilitate the 3rd Avenue Bridge. “Every repair option has been done to this bridge until now, we must take the deck off,” said Fletcher. After numerous repairs in the past, starting in late 2020 or early 2021 (pending when the 10th is complete) they will start the complete rehabilitation of the 3rd avenue bridge. It’s expected to take an estimated two years.
During the project, they will replace the deck, columns and caps as well as repair piers, arches and retaining walls. Although this project will be a “real inconvenience” as stated by several attendees and Fletcher himself, the work is essential to providing safer passage for Minneapolis travelers.
Stone Arch Bridge
Opened to the public in 1993, the Stone Arch Bridge is a large hub of activity for runners, walkers and bikers. Amber Blanchard, Minnesota Department of Transportation, has high hopes in keeping traffic flowing during the phases of repairs, which are mostly underwater.
With the repairs already started, at most, the bridge will be closed to pedestrians for a few weekends, depending on the extent of the repairs and safety concerns. “Unfortunately, most of the repairs we are doing are due to work that was done to the bridge in the 1960s,” stated Fletcher. At this time a date of completion has not been provided.
While the bridges are out of use, the subject of traffic control is a large concern. To that point, Fletcher provided two exciting bits of news. First, the City has received a federal grant to update the bridge at Hennepin and 1st. They are able to hold that project off until 2023 while work proceeds on the other bridges.
Second, as of last month, Minnesota Legislature gave first-class cities (a city with a population of 100,000 or more) the right to determine their own speed limits. In Minnesota that includes Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Duluth. In time, these cities will have the ability to better regulate safety standards specifically to each road and neighborhood.