Next summer a mile-long stretch of Central Avenue NE will be closed to through traffic due to a scheduled railroad bridge replacement.
The bridge is located between 14th and 18th Avenue NE and was originally constructed in 1924. The detour will begin at Broadway Street in the south and Lowry Avenue in the north, and travel over to University Avenue in the west and Johnson Street in the east.
Ron Rauchle, a MnDOT engineer, presented an overview of the $13 million project at the Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCiA) meeting on Oct. 15.
At the meeting several community members complained about the increased neighborhood traffic and strain on businesses the spate of recent bridge closings in Northeast has caused. Rauchle stressed that Central will remain open to serve all area businesses during the construction and that MnDOT is doing everything it can to minimize the time Central is closed.
“We’re still jockeying around activities and timeframes to absolutely minimize the time Central is closed. We’re looking at all different kinds of options right now,” said Rauchle.
After consulting with Ward 1 Council Member Kevin Reich, MnDOT decided to delay the closure until after the 2014 Art-A-Whirl, which is scheduled for May 16-18. Rauchle said they will probably have one lane in each direction opened up by next November, and the whole project will be done by June 2015 at the latest.
Currently the space under the bridge is 59 feet wide, including an 11-foot-wide central pier, and it has a clearance of 14 feet, 9 inches. After the construction the space under the bridge will be 87 feet wide, sans pier, and will have a clearance of 16 feet, 4 inches. The increased clearance will make the bridge tall enough to handle street cars, if they eventually make it down Central Avenue.