The 1983 bridge also opened to bike traffic, but the Minneapolis Department of Public Works asked bikers to walk their bikes across the span. It said the sidewalk that has been plowed is too narrow for combined bike-foot traffic. The department has added chain-link fencing to the low railing beside the walk.
Department representatives acknowledged in an update to a City Council committee earlier this week that some pedestrians and bikers already were squeezing past barricades to cross the bridge.
But clearance to open the bridge for foot use didn't come until the department last week reviewed the findings of a bridge engineering consultant who said that foot traffic would be safe.
The bridge is expected to remain closed to motor vehicles until corroded cables are replaced. That's not expected to happen until at least late this year. Plans call for cables to be replaced and drainage pipes contributing to the corrosion to be relocated. Preliminary design work is expected to begin soon. But the repairs depend on funding, for which the city is seeking state help. Preliminary cost estimates are between $7 million and $10 million.
The corroded cables help support segments of hollow reinforced concrete girders forming the center span of the bridge. About 14,000 vehicles per day used the bridge before they were diverted to the nearby Hennepin or Broadway avenue bridges.