Hey, buddy, want to buy a bridge?
- Blog Post by: Steve Brandt
- 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.
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