Minneapolis again asks state to help repair bridge

The city wants the state to pay for 75 percent of the repair project.

The underside of the 10th avenue bridge on Tuesday. A plan for the bridge's needed repair is projected to cost 42.5 million dollars.

Sam Harper

The underside of the 10th avenue bridge on Tuesday. A plan for the bridge’s needed repair is projected to cost 42.5 million dollars.

Melissa Steinken

To help extend the life of a bridge that links the University of Minnesota’s East and West Bank campuses, the city of Minneapolis has again asked for state funds.
The City Council will again ask the state Legislature to pay for almost $32 million of the $42.5 million needed to repair the 86-year-old 10th Avenue Southeast Bridge. The project would focus on the deterioration of columns, floor beams, arches and the bridge deck.
If funded, repairs for the bridge — which stretches from West River Parkway to Second Street Southeast — could be completed in 2018, said Melissa Lesch, senior government relations representative for Minneapolis.
Repairs are expected to lengthen the bridge’s lifespan by 40 years. 
“From my perspective, if we don’t get it fixed within 10 years, it will be too late,” said Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon.
If repairs are not invested in now, the bridge’s full replacement would be up to three times the cost, Lesch said.
Originally scheduled for construction in 2014 and planned to be completed this year, rehabilitation was delayed due to lack of city funding, Gordon said.
“This is a fact of living in Minnesota,” Lesch, said. “We’re a city with major river crossings, and we have to invest in capable infrastructure.”
Lesch said most of the damage is from water leaking into the supports of the bridge, which has reached the point where repairs are no longer cost-effective. 
“This is kind of the natural time,” she said. “Bridges aren’t meant to last forever, and all need rehab in that point in time.”
The bridge previously underwent repairs in the 1970s and in 2001. 
In 2014, the city counted the bridge as its top bonding priority to state lawmakers. The city was also forced to return more than $3 million from the Metropolitan Council because that wasn’t enough to cover repair costs. 
Area lawmakers have also authored bills to garner funds for the project in the past. 
Once construction begins, vehicle traffic will be diverted to the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge, with possible pedestrian detours routed to a nearby bridge. 
Still, Nick Minderman, chair of the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood association transportation committee, said the postponed repairs have helped avoid additional traffic congestion from major events, like Minnesota Vikings games at TCF Bank stadium.