MnDOT crews didn't quite finish moving the Larpenteur Avenue bridge into place Wednesday night so they will be back to finish the job Thursday night.

That means motorists on I-35E can expect overnight traffic disruptions from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Friday morning, but this time there won't be a full closure of I-35E. Beginning at 10 p.m., both directions of I-35E between Wheelock Parkway and Larpenteur Avenue will close. Traffic will be redirected to the Wheelock Parkway and Larpenteur Avenue ramps and frontage road to bypass the closure. The interstate will reopen by 5 a.m.

The new 3.5 million-pound deck and beams was built on a temporary structure immediately north of the where the old bridge was. MnDOT is using hydraulic jacks to push the new bridge onto the newly constructed new piers and abutments.

It's a very slow process - 8 hours was budgeted to move the structure the 84 feet - and that was not quite enough time. Every six minutes, the jacks were to nudge the bridge about 20 inches. Because some of the steel pieces didn't have enough tolerance to move as planned, MnDOT was only able to move the bridge 40 feet. Crews will cover the remaining 44 feet Thursday, said spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke.

"This has nothing to do with safety of the bridge," Dahlke said, noting that several people have called the agency with that concern.

If all goes as planned, the bridge will be in place by Friday morning. Once there, it will be another 2 to 3 weeks before the bridge will be opened to traffic.

The new bridge consisting of two spans, each 92 feet. is just part of the ongoing work along I-35E, which will continue through 2015. The project includes adding a new MnPASS lane to the current three lanes between Little Canada Road and Maryland Avenue, rebuilding bridges along that stretch and resurfacing the freeway.  Work also continues on rebuilding I-35E between the Maryland Avenue and University Avenue.

Photo: MnDOT

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