Minneapolis now has enough money to fix the blocked Plymouth Avenue Bridge, but the span probably won't reopen until about a year from now.
With a $4 million infusion from last week's special legislative session, the city will have $6 million for repairs to the bridge, which closed to motorized traffic last Oct. 22. That happened when inspectors discovered corrosion in about one-quarter of the cables that hold together the hollow concrete girders that comprise much of the 944-foot bridge.
The latest $4 million will come out of $33 million in bridge bonding authorized during the special session. Although the money isn't earmarked, city officials say the Minnesota Department of Transportation and elected officials have assured them the bridge will be the top priority for that money. That's atop $2.145 million in state maintenance aid earmarked for emergency repairs that MnDOT approved earlier this year.
"I just gave staff the green light to get the bid out," City Engineer Steve Kotke said in an interview. Design work for the repairs will need to be completed by the city's Florida consultant and the project reviewed by the department before bids can be solicited.
The nature of the work requires that the repairs proceed continuously once they begin, Kotke said. Because it will involve dislodging concrete and then pouring new concrete, it needs to happen in warmer weather, he said. That combination rules out starting this fall.
Kotke estimated that it will take three to four months to finish the repairs, probably putting the completion into midsummer next year. "Obviously, my preference would have been to get it going this fall," he said.
Kotke said he plans to use city crews to do the work of baring the corroded cables, then hire a contractor to pour replacement concrete.
The city once feared the repairs would cost $7 million to $10 million and had considered cannibalizing other road projects to find the money if the Legislature didn't help out.
The post-tensioned box-girder bridge was the first of its kind to be built in Minnesota and opened in 1983. About 14,000 vehicles per day have been diverted to other crossings.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438