City calls for 10th Ave. bridge repairs

City officials are seeking the state's support for making repairs to the 10th Avenue bridge. The renovation project would cost about $42 million, and if the plans are approved, the construction would likely begin in 2018.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

City officials are seeking the state’s support for making repairs to the 10th Avenue bridge. The renovation project would cost about $42 million, and if the plans are approved, the construction would likely begin in 2018.

Brian Edwards

Nearly 40 years since its last repairs, the 10th Avenue Bridge will finally undergo much-needed renovations. 
 
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council are requesting funding from the state to revamp the structure, which requires arch and joint repair along with a complete replacement of the top surface that carries traffic. 
 
“It is our way of connecting with Cedar-Riverside and the Green Line light rail,” said Chris Lautenschlager, communications director for the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association.
 
The city has asked the state to cover 75 percent of the $42.5 million project, said Melissa Lesch, the city’s senior government relations representative. The bridge was constructed in 1929 for $891,000. 
 
More than $3 million in federal funds awarded to the city by the Metropolitan Council for the project was returned in 2014 because those funds wouldn’t cover the growing 
cost of repairs.
 
Gov. Mark Dayton will release his bonding bill on Tuesday, which may include funding allocations for the repairs, Dayton’s press secretary Matt Swenson said. 
 
“It is as strong as any other project that would be proposed this session,” Lesch said. 
 
The project could potentially receive funding from the Local Bridge Replacement Program, a state-funded program that is part of the legislative bonding bill, she said. 
 
City officials have known for a number of years that the bridge needs work and decided to make it their top bonding priority this year, said Kate Brickman, communications director for Hodges.
 
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, introduced bills to the legislature this session in an attempt to get funding for the bridge.
 
But Republicans have largely focused on projects in outstate Minnesota this session, Kahn said, which could make it difficult to get funding approved for the bridge.
 
The city inspects the bridge annually and compiles an overall safety rating of the bridge, said Jack Yuzna, a bridge engineer for the city. 
 
Though the bridge has been determined safe, Yuzna said the bridge requires extensive repairs to keep it in top condition. 
 
Bridge repairs would be exhaustive but necessary because the concrete in the bridge is deteriorating at a rate quicker than inspectors first thought, Yuzna said. Saltwater seeps into the bridge joints and causes the rapid deterioration of nearby concrete. 
 
Ward 3 City Councilman Jacob Frey, who represents the University of Minnesota and surrounding neighborhoods, said putting off repairs will only make the project costlier.
 
“It’s not like it is going to fall down tomorrow,” Frey said. “But we should be setting our goals higher than simply responding to the possibility of a bridge crashing into the water.”