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Posts about Parks and recreation

City has nibbles on parkway bridge reuse

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: March 27, 2014 - 11:47 AM
A view from the current bridge

A view from the current bridge

The city of Minneapolis has already had some nibbles from potential buyers of the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge that it's trying to peddle.

That's the word from Ole Mersinger, an engineer in the city's transportation planning and design section.

"There's been some inquiries on it, but I don't know how viable they are," Mersinger told MPLS this week.

Proposals are due by April 30 for trusses from the five-truss bridge that is scheduled to be removed in 2015 so a new bridge (right) can replace the outmoded crossing that carries the parkway over the Northtown railyard.

But only four of five trusses are on the market, Mersinger clarified.  The fifth will be retained in the area for historical interpretation that's to be incorporated in the bridge's landscaping plan.

Ordinarily, the city wouldn't need to offer a worn-out bridge for sale. But the bridge's location on the Grand Rounds parkway system and over the railyard, both considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, means the city needs to take extra steps.  A memo negotiated with various state and federal agencies requires that the bridge be marketed to be preserved as an historic structure -- even if in a new location.

The city's bridge contractor, to be selected in after bidding this summer, will remove the five trusses and relocate them nearby.  Then the submitter of the winning proposal will be responsible for disassembling it for transport and hauling it to a new location. The city's request for proposals specifies that the winning proposer must reuse the bridge for public transportation.

That requirement, and the likely costs associated with carrying out any reuse proposal, pretty much rule out all but a proposal from another government unit, the city said. But it's possible that the trusses could be split among more than one interested buyer, Mersinger said.

Mersinger said that the bridge is the first he's aware of that the city has offered publicly. But there's precedent for reusing spans. When the Broadway Avenue Bridge was replaced in 1987, one of its spans was floated downriver to bridge the East Channel between SE Main Street and Nicollet Island.  However, the bridge load is actually supported by modern beams underneath the historic span.

Perhaps a better example for the current city offer is the nomadic history of the Silverdale Bridge.  The 1870s wrought-iron truss bridge began service in Sauk Centre, Minn., then was relocated in 1937 to a state highway in Koochiching County (below).  In 2011, it was reassembled to carry bikes and pedestrians on the Gateway Trail over Manning Avenue in Washington County.

           

Hey, buddy, want to buy a bridge?

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: March 19, 2014 - 10:02 AM

It’s 89 years old, it’s decrepit and it’s fracture critical, but hey—you could be the lucky owner of the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge.

The city of Minneapolis is accepting proposals to buy the bridge through April 30, according to a notice published this week in the State Register.

But there are catches. You have to buy the whole bridge, not one of its five deteriorating trusses. And you have to reassemble it somewhere else for transportation purposes.

Still, the Minneapolis equivalent of selling the Brooklyn Bridge isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem.  There are other examples of bridge reuse around the city.

For example, a century-old span of the old Broadway Avenue Bridge was floated down the river’s East Channel in 1987 to connect S.E. Main Street with Nicollet Island.  Portions of the deck of the old Lowry Avenue Bridge comprise part of the wall around the city’s public works complex on Hiawatha Avenue.

Some bridges get reused in place.  For example, the Stone Arch Bridge and Bridge 9 in the central riverfront were converted from rail to bike and pedestrian use in 1994 and 2000 respectively.

The St. Anthony Parkway bridge consists of five through trusses on concrete piers.  The trusses are

fracture critical, which means they’re constructed so that if one key component of a truss fails, the entire truss goes down. The bridge is already heavily restricted for the weight of loads that are allowed to cross it, and even its sidewalks are restricted. It’s rated two on a bridge inspection scale of 100, making it the worst bridge still in use in Hennepin County.

It needs to be removed because a new bridge is being planned for the site. Construction could begin this fall.  But taking it apart won’t be easy—the bridge spans an active railyard of 24 tracks. But that worked in the city’s favor when it came to getting state help for the new bridge. After trying unsuccessfully for several sessions to gain state aid, the city switched from calling it the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge to the Northtown Rail Bridge, which apparently swayed legislators.

Key link on Hiawatha LRT bike trail opens

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: January 29, 2014 - 5:30 PM

You can finally get there from here easily on the Hiawatha LRT Trail following the announcement that a long-closed key segment south of downtown will reopen Thursday at 7 a.m.

The section of trail for bikes and pedestrians between 11th and 15th Avenues S. is reopening after a lengthy  closure by the Metro Council for construction of the adjacent extension of the light-rail transit line to St. Paul. The bike path generally parallels the light-rail tracks, and about 1,300 cyclists a day use it in warm weather.

The section of path closed just as the city was completing a $1.3 million extension of the north end of the trail farther into downtown,which mooted the utility of the extension. The extension pushed the north end of the trail from 11th Avenue S. to S. 3rd Street, meaning cyclists no longer were tempted to cut through several bumpy parking lots to access it. The extension connected the trail with on-street lanes on S. 3rd and 4th Streets.

During the construction closure, trail users were routed through a bumpy, narrow, noisy sidewalk route adjoinng the S. 5th Street freeway entrance to downtown.

The city said in a news release that bikers and pedestrians should keep an eye out for light-rail workers using the trail to access work sites and complete remaining tasks.  The reopened section of trail includes the junction of the blue (Hiawatha) line and green (Central) sections of track. That means there's a new surface-level track crossing where bikers and other users are required to stop for gate arms, the city said.

(Staff photo bvy Matt McKinney, looking west toward downtown at the point of the former detour.)

Apartment owner denies illegal water pumping

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: January 29, 2014 - 1:56 PM

The owner of an apartment building on Lake Street sued by the city for pumping groundwater into the Calhoun-Isles lagoon asserts that the city approved its plans.

Lake and Knox LLC said in an answer to the city lawsuit that city reviewed and approved its building plans and specifications, which included included information about two permanent dewatering pumps each rated at 500 gallons per minute.

The city asserts that Lake and Knox obtained temporary permits to pump water for its construction site at 1800 W. Lake St., but that it is now pumping illegally on a permanent basis.  The city, later joined by the Park Board, is suing to block the discharge and recover damages.

But lawyers for the apartment owner assert that the city expressly approved a storm drain permit, certificate of occupancy and building permit that involved permanent dewatering of the property.

Lake and Knox said it applied for a permanent Department of Natural Resources water use permit after conferring with the city. It applied in April, 2013, after construction was completed, according to state records, but the city asked the state to hold off on acting on the permit, according to Jack Gleason, a DNR area hydrologist. He said the need for a permanent permit didn't come to light until after the city inquired whether the building had one.

The owner's attorneys also deny the city's claim that a temporary water use permit was limited to lowering the water table at the construction site for excavating a foundation, insisting that the dewatering was to lower the water table in the vicinity of the property. The company also denied the city's assertion that the apartment's connection to the storm sewer system was only for drainage from the property's land and roof.

It admits that the pumping of water into the lagoon may thin the ice, but denied that the pumping impairs the lakes or the city's sewer. It said it has worked "diligently and steadfastly" with the city to address its concerns.

The proposal for what became 56 upscale apartments was controversial in surrounding neighborhoods before it was approved and constructed in 2011.  The city and Park Board recently installed for the second straight winter a drainage pipe to carry discharged water from the nearby sewer across the lagoon ice to a point in Lake Calhoun. That was done in part to accommodate skiers participating in this weekend's City of Lake Loppet events on Isles, Calhoun and the lagoon between them.  .

(A temporary 12-inch drainage pipe in the background is temporarily carrying the storm sewer discharge from the lagoon to Lake Calhoun to avoid further thinning of the ice in the lagoon)

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Park Board sues over discharge to lagoon

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: January 22, 2014 - 1:01 PM

A second Minneapolis agency has sued the owner of an apartment building at 1800 W. Lake St. for discharging groundwater into the lagoon between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun.

The complaint served last week by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board against Eden Prairie-based Lake and Knox LLC follows a city lawsuit last month over the discharge of groundwater. The Park Board will ask that the two lawsuits be joined, attorney Brian Rice said.

The city and Park Board allege that the apartment owner exceed the limits of a temporary permit it was issued during construction of the 56-unit building to lower the water table to permit construction of a lower-level garage. The Park Board cites its statutory authority over waters adjacent to parks.

The Park Board asked the court to declare the discharge illegal, to enjoin further discharge and to award unspecified damages.

Lake and Knox is not due to file an answer until late this month in Hennepin County District Court to the allegations against it, nor has its attorney responded to Star Tribune inquiries.

The lawsuits allege that the apartment project is pumping an annual 89 million gallons into the lagoon. The Park Board alleges that causes thin ice and open water on the lagoon, creating hazards for skiers and others, mars the scenery, uses storm drain capacity, and impedes the effectiveness and hinders the maintenance of a grit chamber intended to remove sediment and accompanying pollutants.   

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