m4433 BC-MN-BridgeClosing 04-25 0284
Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis to close at 10 a.m.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hennepin County officials have decided to permanently close the Lowry Avenue Bridge at 10 a.m. Friday, months ahead of schedule, due to new safety concerns.
Transportation officials had known since 2004 that one of the bridge’s piers had shifted out of place, and closed it in 2005 for a year of repairs. They had been planning to permanently close the bridge this summer anyway, but became concerned about how the bridge’s piers would handle the coming warm weather.
"We realized four years ago it had shifted 11 inches, and in the last month it shifted another inch," Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein said. "It’s a public safety issue to keep it open anymore. It’s not going to fall down today or tomorrow, but as it starts expanding and with many days of 80-plus degrees, it’s unpredictable what it will do."
The bridge connects north Minneapolis with northeast Minneapolis and carried about 12,000 cars a day. It was built in 1905 and renovated in 1958.
Construction on the replacement was originally scheduled to start next year. Stenglein said the county will now expedite the design and construction work, and he expects the new bridge to be in place in two years. The estimated cost is $109 million. Funding has not been secured, but is expected to come from county and state sources. The county is also pursuing federal funding.
Demolition of the old bridge is scheduled to begin next week and is expected to take about six months.