With the snip of scissors cutting a red ribbon, Minneapolis city officials on Tuesday opened the historic 10th Avenue bridge marking the end of a $60 million rehabilitation project that took almost two years.

Barricades will come down Wednesday allowing traffic and pedestrians to cross the span adjacent to Interstate 35W that connects the Marcy Holmes and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods, and provides a direct route for scores of University of Minnesota students needing to cross the Mississippi River each day.

"It will be very much a time saver," said Adam Dickey, a U of M junior studying at the Carlson School of Management who on Tuesday strolled across the bridge before its official opening.

For the past two years, Dickey has had to find alternate routes from his student apartment to class, a trip he makes two to three times a day. "I've have had to find other ways. This will save 10 to 15 minutes."

First opened in 1929, the 2,174-foot-long bridge with its seven distinctive arches had not received a lot of attention in its lifetime. The sidewalk and bridge railings were replaced in the 1950s, and the driving surface was replaced in the 1970s. Those were the last major upgrades to the bridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Before COVID the bridge was used by about 10,000 vehicles and 2,000 bicyclists and pedestrians daily. It connects SE. 10th Avenue on the east side of the Mississippi River with S. 19th Avenue on the west side and had been closed since March 2020. In the many months that followed, crews fixed leaking expansion joints and drainage elements that caused concrete components to deteriorate, particularly in the arches and support columns which had cracks and exposed rebar in places.

While they were at it, crews also removed a failing water main on the underside of the bridge. It was replaced with a new one five feet in diameter placed beneath the river. The bridge deck was also reconfigured with bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, adding another chapter to the bridge's storied history.

"We have multi-modal transportation for the first time," said Bryan Dodds, deputy public works director and city engineer.

Mayor Jacob Frey was impressed with the outcome, and said the reopening is emblematic of the city coming together.

"It looks brand new," the mayor said during the bridge opening ceremony. "This is an example of how old things can be exciting and redone in a functional and modern fashion. This critical asset deserves to be celebrated."

Among those at Tuesday's celebration were state Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, who helped secure original funding for the project in 2012 when needs were first identified, Minneapolis City Council members, city public works employees and architects and engineers from contractor Lunda Construction.

University of Minnesota Senior Vice President Myron Frans said the U was proud to partner with the city and the state on the project, and is glad to have restored an important amenity serving the campus.

"This bridge is much older than me, but it looks so much better than me," he said.