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For 140th birthday, Stone Arch Bridge will receive gift of repairs

The bridge’s reconstruction begins this spring, in time for the reopening of the Third Avenue Bridge.
Image by Shalom Berhane
Pedestrians using the Stone Arch Bridge on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.

The Stone Arch Bridge will close for two years for repairs beginning in the spring, forcing residents to find a new way to get to downtown Minneapolis.

Originally built as a railroad bridge in 1883, the bridge was last renovated in 1994 when it was converted into a biking and walking path. More than a century after its construction, the bridge will undergo repairs to replace its corroding metal anchors and fractured rocks and to repoint a mortar in the Mississippi River to ensure the stones fit tightly together.

Repairs will begin this spring and continue into next fall, according to Amber Blanchard, project manager for the bridge’s repairs. It will reopen for the winter, until the project resumes in March, and should be completed by Oct. 2025. 

Blanchard said while the bridge is currently safe to walk or bike on, work is needed to preserve it.

“The bridge is structurally sound,” Blanchard said. “We just need to do some preservation work to make sure that the bridge is around for a lot longer time frame.”

The first half of repairs will be on the Marcy-Holmes side of the bridge, according to Blanchard, and the second half will be on the downtown side. Only half of the bridge will be closed at a time during repairs, allowing residents to go halfway across the bridge before needing to turn around. 

More than $22 million from the Minnesota Department of Transportation will help, according to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Elizabeth Shaffer. The state legislature allocated around $5 million for repairs and the federal government will cover the rest.

Public bidding for which contractor will be involved in the repairs will open Nov. 15, according to Blanchard.

President of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association Vic Thorstenson said although many people use the bridge to get to and from work, the repairs are crucial to keep the bridge safe.

“It’s going to be inconvenient, but it’s necessary work and it needs to be done,” Thorstenson said.

Alternatives to the Stone Arch Bridge for residents are the 10th Avenue Bridge or the Third Avenue Bridge, which will open in October after being under repair since 2021.

More miscellaneous work, including cleaning the bridge of litter and clearing vegetation by the bridge, will happen alongside the repairs, according to Blanchard.

Shaffer said the Stone Arch Bridge is a symbol of Minneapolis, so repairing it should be a priority. The bridge is the second oldest on the Mississippi River and the only one that is arched and made of stone.

“It’s our iconic architecture here within the city,” Shaffer said. “The fact that we’re investing the money to redo it is really important.”

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