Newest Gateway bridge dates from 1877

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2012 - 11:24 PM

The trail's rebuilt wrought-iron span will be celebrated today in Washington County.

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A view of the Gateway Trail from a bicycle.

Photo: Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

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A bridge more than a century old, moved and reused for a modern purpose, will be celebrated Monday on the Gateway State Trail in Washington County.

The wrought-iron 1877 bridge, built in Sauk Center for vehicle traffic, was disassembled and re-erected over the Little Fork River in Koochiching County in 1937. It was moved to Washington County and opened in October as a Gateway Trail pedestrian crossing over bustling Manning Avenue.

Before the bridge was installed on Minnesota's busiest state trail, pedestrians and cyclists had to race between fast-moving vehicles on Manning.

"It was very dangerous," said Rachel Hintzman, parks and trails area supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "There were curves in both directions of the road and it was risky to cross it."

The DNR and the Minnesota Department Transportation's historic bridge preservation program worked together in a "first-of-its-kind partnership," she said.

The last time DNR took a survey of Gateway Trail use, in 2003, it found more than 86,000 users that summer from Interstate 694 north to the end of the trail at Pine Point Park northwest of Stillwater. The 17.9-mile trail begins at Cayuga Street in St. Paul and passes through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale.

Hintzman said it's generally believed that trail use is far greater than that now, and will grow even more when the new Browns Creek State Trail connects with the Gateway Trail about a mile south of the new bridge crossing.

The state and Washington County spent $4.25 million for the new trail, which will run from Stillwater's riverfront west to the Gateway Trail in the City of Grant.

A date hasn't been set for an opening but an estimated 75,000 users are projected the first year, Hintzman said.

The Gateway Trail pedestrian bridge is 4.5 miles north of Hwy. 36 on Manning. Today's public ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the west end of the bridge.

Details on both trails can be found here: gatewaybrownscreektrail.org/

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037 Twitter: @stribgiles

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