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More Than 70 Percent of Richfield Bridges Rebuilt Since I-35W Collapse

While all Richfield bridges check out safe, two were marked "Functionally Obsolete" by federal and state authorities.

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Five years ago today, the way this country looked at roads and bridges changed forever.

On Aug. 1, 2007, the I-35W bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring another 145.

In the immediate aftermath, federal and state authorities revamped the way bridges are inspected and ultimately graded for safety.

Today, Richfield is home to two bridges the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and federal authorities deem problematic, but safe: the 12th Avenue bridge over I-494 and the Penn Avenue Bridge over Highway 62.

Much of Richfield's good standing can be attributed to recent bridge reconstruction. Of Richfield's 38 bridges and on/off ramps, 29 (or roughly 76 percent) were rebuilt within the last seven years, with 27 (72 percent) being built in 2007 or later. The majority of the projects occurred in 2007, with most being underway when the I-35W collapse occurred.

The problematic 12th Avenue bridge was built in 1959 and the Penn Avenue bridge in 1962. All others were built in the late 1950s to early 1960s, with the exception of two, which were replaced in 1999. At this time, plans to replace the obsolete structures are not on MnDOT's future projects list.

Currently, MnDOT is working on over I-494. The bridge is part of a larger project that will repave the interstate from 34th Avenue to Highway 100, as well as add two westbound, auxillary lanes between I-35W and Highway 100, and Portland and Nicollet avenues.

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Laura August 02, 2012 at 03:53 PM
"Problematic but safe" does not make me feel safe while driving over it, I must admit. I use the 12th Avenue Bridge all the time...
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) August 02, 2012 at 04:00 PM
That was my word choice, Laura. It's my understanding that being functionally obsolete essentially means that the bridge is no longer current. With traffic the way it is, the bridge can't adequately accommodate travelers. We've seen Lyndale and Penn Avenue bridges rebuilt in the last few years to fix this. Now Xerxes is up. I'm not an expert, but I wouldn't worry about safety, but, as you know, access on and off the highway and interstate from those two mentioned bridges is annoying!

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