NE facing another bridge replacement project

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December 17, 2012 // UPDATED 3:23 pm - December 29, 2012
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

CENTRAL AVENUE — Northeast business owners and residents are bracing for another bridge replacement project.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is planning to replace a railroad bridge over Central Avenue. Construction would start next summer and 

impact the street between 14th and 18th avenues northeast, according to a MnDOT fact sheet on the $14 million project.

The extent of lane closures on Central in the impacted area has not been determined. Northeast community and business leaders are lobbying to keep the area open to some traffic.

Many in the area are suffering from construction fatigue and had hoped work would be wrapped up now that the Lowry and Plymouth Avenue bridges are open.

Lucy Bacon, owner of Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, 1618 Central Ave. NE, said she would prefer to see no traffic obstruction on Central. She depends on the motorists who pass by her shop on Central to keep her business going. She’s heard estimates that 16,000 cars go by her shop each day. 

“I realize that this project needs to be done, and there will be some kind of interruption,” she said. “If they could keep one lane open in each direction, at least I would survive it. If they close it completely, especially for the four to six months that they’re talking about, we’ll be completely isolated, and business will be cut to about a third of what it is now — or more, who knows?”

City Council Member Kevin Reich (1st Ward) said he’s in favor of a partial closure of traffic on Central even if it stretches the construction timeline out a bit.

He said it’s important for the project to move forward because it will result in a better Central Avenue for drivers, bikers and pedestrians. He plans to continue having meetings with business owners and others in the area that would be immediately impacted by construction. 

State Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-59A) said the neighborhoods have felt cut off by recent bridge projects. She said there’s also been a push from the community to take a look at other bridges in the area to see if they are in need of repairs so they could take place at the same time. 

“The worst thing would be to close off traffic for a long time and then find another bridge has issues,” she said.