Seventh Street bridge (copy)

Paddle boaters pass under the Seventh Street Northeast bridge while cruising along Silver Lake in Rochester. 

Answer Man: Do you happen to know how much longer the Seventh Street Bridge by Silver Lake Pool will be inaccessible? Just curious. — Dee Tiedeman

Dear Dee: Of course I do. Who do you think you are asking?

The bridge preservation project, which started in May, is actually complete.

According to Rochester Public Works Communications Coordinator Megan Moeller, all that remains before the street can be reopened are a few items along Seventh Street Northeast.

Primarily, the remaining work involves replacing manholes and striping the street.

The rain seen earlier this week slowed work a bit, but the street is expected to open next week, assuming the weather allows the work to continue.

The bridge repairs were needed so the structure will be strong enough when the city starts dredging Silver Lake next year, which will require hauling loads of sediment down Seventh Avenue.

The reinforced-concrete deck girder bridge is considered historically significant for its high artistic value, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Its artistic elements cited include curved fascia girders and an ornamental railing featuring Moderne details.

As noted, the summer-long project went well beyond preserving the bridge.

The $1.8 million project includes removing a travel lane in each direction while maintaining parking lanes and adding buffered bike lanes.

With approximately 8,000 vehicle trips on the street each day prior to the bridge work, the city determined it was fit for opening an option for bike commuters and others hoping to access downtown on pedal power.

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