North Loop bridge will finally get fixed

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June 14, 2004 // UPDATED 2:04 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A dilapidated "pony truss" bridge in the North Loop is set for a makeover this summer.

The small bridge, which has been closed to traffic for a decade, sits on 4th Avenue North between the Heritage Landings Apartments, 415 N. 1st St., and the new Rock Island Lofts development, 111 4th Ave. N.

The railroad installed the "pony truss" (a small bridge with no overhead bracings) years ago, said Jeff Johnson, a city of Minneapolis bridge maintenance engineer.

Johnson said about $40,000 in city funds have been earmarked to rehab the bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists. It won't be open to cars.

Crews will install new wooden planks on the bridge's deck sometime this summer and add a sidewalk at a later date, he said.

The city barricaded the bridge and the small section of 4th Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets about 10 years ago.

The neglected bridge has drawn complaints from neighborhood leaders, including former resident Jim Grabek, who served as chair of the North Loop Neighborhood Association before resigning his post to move to another Downtown neighborhood.

Grabek recently asked the area's City Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward) to fix the bridge problem, noting that a North Loop developer, Jim Stanton, had agreed to rehab the bridge at his own expense.

Stanton -- who heads Coon Rapids-based Shamrock Development, the company behind Rock Island Lofts and other North Loop projects such as Lindsay Lofts, 408 N. 1st St., and 212 Lofts, 212 N. 1st St. -- said he offered to pay for the bridge repairs years ago but hasn't pressed the issue recently.

"Everybody would like to see the bridge restored," he said.

Stanton said he'd like to see new landscaping and walking paths, and to have the graffiti removed from the site.

Johnson Lee said her office looked into the possibility of allowing a private developer to make repairs to the street and bridge but decided against it because of liability concerns.

Johnson, the city's bridge doctor, said he plans on meeting with neighborhood leaders and developers before moving forward with a more detailed plan.

"I just want to give them a nice canvas to work with," he said. "[The bridge] is probably one of the last ties to the historic neighborhood. Let's try to save it. It has some value. That's a personal bias -- some older things are worth keeping around."