Stone Arch Bridge reopened for bikes and pedestrians


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After being closed to the public since Wednesday evening, after the collapse of the 35W bridge, the Stone Arch Bridge has now been reopened to the public, allowing bikers and pedestrians to view the scene of the wreckage and more easily cross to the downtown side of the river. City officials had said that it was necessary to close the Stone Arch Bridge so that it could be used by emergency vehicles and it has also been the site for the numerous press conferences that have been held since the fall of the 35W bridge. With so many people eager to view the destruction, the newly opened Stone Arch Bridge has been very crowded and likely will continue to be so in the weeks ahead.

Since Wednesday evening, traffic in the area surrounding the bridge site has been consistently congested, as people in cars, on bikes, and on foot attempt to get a look at the site. Cars have been steadily streaming along University Avenue, making it nearly impossible for people to cross the street; other drivers have been using the East River Road near the East Bank campus, all trying to find a site from which to view the bridge site. Traffic problems have been compounded by the fact that lanes on University Avenue and the adjacent side streets have been taken up by the dozens of news crew trucks and satellite dishes that have been camped out in the area since Wednesday evening.

In truth, the entire area is so cordoned off that it has been very difficult for people to see anything of the collapsed bridge site. The best vantage points have been from the taller buildings in the area; guests with rooms on the freeway side of the Holiday Inn Metrodome, for example, report clear views, as do residents on the west side of the Riverview Apartments next to the University of Minnesota Law School. Members of the general public have had the best views from the upper floors of the Guthrie Theater and the top of the new Gold Medal Park, on the downtown side of the river.

With the opening of the Stone Arch Bridge, residents on the east side of the river will have much a much easier time getting downtown by foot or bike. Getting across the river by car, however, will continue to be slow and congested. The 3rd Avenue Bridge has been filled with cars since the accident, though the city has deployed traffic cops to help cars to move through the intersections more efficiently. City councilperson Cam Gordon said that officials were hoping that a number of drivers would also move over to the Hennepin and Plymouth Avenue bridges upriver, taking some of the pressure off of 3rd Avenue.

The 10th Avenue Bridge continues to be closed and is likely to remain so until more debris has been removed from the river, as officials are concerned that a large chunk of debris from the collapse site could become loose and possible strike the bridge’s piers in the river.