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Bloomington officials, who approved the bridge renovation in September and have $14.3 million to pay for it, long considered the rickety bridge a liability. One of the historic documents included with the engineering reports indicates they weren’t the first to have issues.
A 1923 inspection report shows that though the bridge was barely two years old, some piers already listed as much as 7 inches. Expansion joints that were supposed to allow for expansion and contraction in heat and cold were closed. Unless the bridge was fixed, the report said, some trusses might buckle when summer came.
The problem apparently was too much fill on one end of the bridge. The north abutment was rebuilt that year and again in 1957, probably because bridge supports kept shifting in their boggy wetland home.
“Everything moves with freeze-thaw and wet conditions,” Pederson said. “It’s in harsh conditions.”
The new bridge renovation will be complicated, requiring removal of lead paint, protection of the wetland and probably construction of a temporary platform or bridge for construction.
Exactly how things will work will become clearer as engineering plans advance through the summer.
“We want it to be there for the next 50 years, in good repair and easy to maintain,” Pederson said.
While the construction schedule isn’t yet set, the bridge is expected to reopen in spring 2016.
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380