Special Report: Broken Bridges Part 1
A Look at a Replaced Bridge in Minnesota
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It was a tragedy that made headlines around the world.
“That’s one of those events, kind of like the Kennedy assassination, you remember right where you were when you found out about it,” said State Senator, David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm).
Since the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse, legislators and bridge engineers have been keeping a sharp eye on bridges in our region.
“Of course the first primary concern is always safety of the traveling public,” said Matt Hemmila, St. Louis County bridge engineer.
The Bridge on Highland, or St. Louis County bridge 812, was damaged in the 2012 flood.
But even before that, it was designated as structurally deficient.
“That just kind of accelerated the risk factor of leaving it in there,” said Hemmila.
The combination of the two required a completely new bridge to be built.
“We had a slope failure on one side, and there was a footing failure on that same side,” said Hemmila.
The total cost of construction was $2 million secured from state flood money.
“To replace it, was actually more expensive than to put in the bridge that we chose,” said Hemmila.
Before the flood, the bridge was a different story.
It was actually a culvert sitting on the ledge rock.
“It spanned from down at the toe of the slope, used to be on both sides and there was about a 30 foot vertical difference between the two,” said Hemmila.
Now, the new bridge has state of the art technology, taking away any previous issues.
“It’s a 96 inch tall precast, pre-stressed concrete beam,” said Hemmila.
The beam used for the bridge was designed by LHB out of Duluth and allows a 183 foot single span bridge over Keene Creek.
It is the longest of its type in the state.
“It was a cost savings because we didn’t have to put any other structures for the intermediate piers and it allowed us to have a picturesque place there for the trail to come through,” said Hemmila.
Although it’s not completely finished, the latest example of keeping Minnesota bridges safe is successfully in the works.