Camden Bridge closing

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Weather permitting, the Camden Bridge connecting North and Northeast Minneapolis is scheduled to close for rehabilitation work about March 15. The closure will last approximately six months, and when the bridge reopens, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians will see major improvements. The bridge work is made possible because the City of Minneapolis applied for and received $10 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the project.

When the bridge reopens around Labor Day, the bridge deck will be completely new, with a new driving surface, new sidewalks and railings, and attractive new lighting. Underneath, important work to the bridge structure will ensure the bridge is in good shape to continue carrying traffic for decades to come. That includes replacement of expansion joints and a new storm water drainage system. The bridge will also be repainted in 2011, although the bridge will remain open during this work.

To minimize the amount of time people in the nearby neighborhoods will be affected by the closure, and to reduce the time traffic will be affected, the bridge will be completely closed during the work. A complete closure will allow crews to finish most of the bridge work in six months, as opposed to the two years it would take if the bridge were intermittently opened and closed during work.

Drivers are asked to follow the posted detours and message signs during construction. The official detour route for traffic across the river will be the Plymouth Avenue Bridge to the south. Although the Broadway Bridge is also in the area, the Plymouth Avenue Bridge has much more capacity than Broadway to handle additional vehicles, and is just a few blocks farther to the south. The detour for bicyclists is to the north, using the Interstate 694 Bridge.

“We know having this bridge closed will be an inconvenience for many people,” said City Council President Barbara Johnson, who represents the Fourth Ward, on the west end of the bridge. “But a complete closure means we’ll get through this inconvenience much faster, and it creates a safer working environment.”

Built in 1975, the Camden Bridge is a crossing over the Mississippi River and Interstate 94, connecting 42nd Avenue North on the west and 37th Avenue Northeast on the east. The bridge has deteriorated to the point that it is need of repairs to maintain public safety. The current bridge has “fracture critical” pin and hanger connections which will be replaced. The traffic rails have deteriorated and also require replacement.

Planning for this rehab project began in 2004 but has been on hold because funding was not available. By using Recovery funding to complete the bridge work now, the bridge can be improved before it deteriorates further, which would necessitate a new bridge to be built at a cost well over $100 million. The completed project will also save Minneapolis maintenance costs into the future. Currently, city crews spend approximately a month on deck patching and painting the bridge each year. For info on the project, and for updates as the work progresses, visit www.ci.minneapolis. mn.us/cip/camden/.