The troubled Lowry Avenue Bridge was scheduled to closed permanently at 10 a.m. today, eliminating a river crossing in Minneapolis for at least three years, Hennepin County announced Thursday afternoon.
Engineers had been expecting to close the aging bridge sometime this summer, but "with the temperature swings and the pier movement and the bridge expanding, there's too many moving parts," Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein said Thursday. "Moving parts are fine for clocks but not for bridges."
"The engineers [Thursday] morning showed me pictures of bolts that have been sheared off," said Stenglein, who represents the area.
Jim Grube, Hennepin County Transportation Department director, said: "The structure, we believe, is not in any imminent danger of collapse, but as the air temperature increases, the situation could change without notice -- that is our primary concern."
The bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River and connects north and northeast Minneapolis, was rebuilt in 1958 using its original 1905 piers. About 12,000 vehicles a day use the bridge, which has an unusual see-through steel-grate deck.
A replacement is estimated to cost $109 million, but funding has not yet been secured. The county hopes to begin construction of a new bridge in October 2009 and finish in late 2011.