Deephaven Mayor Paul Skrede was so proud of replacing a 100-year-old bridge in his Lake Minnetonka community that it's noted in his obituary.
To honor the six years he spent working to obtain state funding to finally construct a new Northome Avenue bridge, city and state leaders along with a few dozen residents gathered Thursday to dedicate it to Skrede, who missed the chance to see his work come to fruition.
"I think it was the council's way of giving its appreciation to Paul for all his work on behalf of the citizens," City Administrator Dana Young said. "He was passionate about our community and there was nothing he liked better than being mayor of Deephaven."
Skrede, 75, was found dead in his home in September after a cardiac arrest. He was first elected mayor in 2007 and had served on the council since 2003.
Funding came through last year to replace the Northome bridge, which was first built in 1920. Total cost of the project is about $1 million, with the state bonding bill contributing $750,000 for the bridge design and construction.
Crews were in the initial stages of bridge demolition when Skrede died.
"He would've loved to see the construction of this bridge," Young said. "We're just delighted to get the bridge finally completed and Paul played such a huge role. He also had a passion for bridges. They were kind of a more complex type construction project and he was just fascinated with their construction."
It's one of four projects during Skrede's 15-year tenure as mayor that "he took particular pride in," according to his obituary. The small community has just three bridges and Skrede had a hand in updating all of them.
Young said the Northhome bridge was in "terrible shape" and had one of the worst ratings in Hennepin County. A 2019 structure inventory report, which were required by the state annually due to capacity limitations, stated it was structurally deficient and safety features were substandard.
Ed Lutgen, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the bridge wasn't unsafe and lasted longer than it was originally designed to last, which was around 50 years.
A permanent plaque for Skrede will be placed on the bridge in the spring.
Skrede had 15 months remaining in his two-year term. One of the city's four council members will be appointed to fill the remainder. The council is expected to vote on that Monday.
"How do we replace someone like Paul? It's hard. None of us could ever fill those shoes alone. It will take all of us," said Council Member Melissa McNeill. "I can't think of a more fitting tribute to a man who gave so much of himself to this city. I think he gave all of himself to the city."