The renovation of Bloomington’s Old Cedar Avenue bridge is swinging into gear, after the City Council last week approved a $1.6 million contract for bridge design and overseeing construction services.

The contract went to SRF Consulting Group. Design work will begin immediately.

“This is 33 years in the making,” said Jim Gates, Bloomington deputy director of public works. “Thanks is due to the Minnesota Legislature for bringing the additional money to the city for the bridge.”

The bridge crosses Long Meadow Lake in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, linking bike and pedestrian trails in Hennepin and Dakota counties. It was given to Bloomington in 1981 by the state, but the city never wanted the deteriorating bridge.

The bridge closed to all traffic in 2002. Bikers, hikers and nature lovers lobbied for the city to fix it, but city officials were reluctant to spend money on an expensive renovation and wanted instead to replace the bridge.

Last year, the spidery 1920 black steel bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places, meaning it could not be razed.

Bloomington DFL Rep. Ann Lenczewski forced the issue last year with legislation that linked $250 million for Mall of America expansion to council action on the bridge. The council approved the renovation in September.

Design work is expected to be finished at the end of this year. Construction should begin in 2015, with the bridge reopening in summer 2016.

Renovation is expected to cost about $13 million. The city has $14.3 million for the project, including state, federal and city money.