River channel past disaster site opens for boaters

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2007 - 9:32 PM

The Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis is open to anyone with a boat for the first time since the Interstate 35W bridge collapse more than two months ago.

The Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis is open to anyone with a boat for the first time since the Interstate 35W bridge collapse more than two months ago.

"We've been anxious to make this happen because so many people are calling us wanting to make that trip to enjoy the fall colors," said Chief Petty Officer Kelly Dentry of the U.S. Coast Guard.

But federal investigators were reluctant until they were sure they had gathered every last piece of potential evidence.

The ban on boats had been in effect from the lock and dam near St. Anthony Falls to the lock and dam near the Ford Bridge.

Gradually over the past few weeks that ban has been relaxed, Dentry said.

First, barges from two companies upstream from downtown that rely on river traffic were allowed to use a narrow navigational channel. Then, on Friday, other commercial vessels such as tour boats were permitted north of the Lake Street Bridge.

Now, the stretch of river is open to recreational boats such as canoes, kayaks and motorboats that are likely to move into shallower waters closer to the shoreline.

"We are going to have Coast Guard Auxiliary on the scene for the next couple of days, as a precaution," Dentry said, "to make sure everyone stays safe. But the bottom line is, it's fully back to normal on the river."

DAVID PETERSON

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