Navigating the Lowry maze
By: Marky Wagner 06/01/2008
The Lowry Avenue Bridge was closed permanently on April 25 due to structural problems. The open grid of the 100-year-old bridge, seen here from below, caused a singing effect as cars drove over it, hence its nickname the “singing bridge.” Photo by Donna Seline.
Just when you thought it was safe to take a drive on Lowry Avenue the maze has returned for another summer of construction. The Lowry Avenue Bridge closed on April 25 after inspections revealed further deterioration of the structure discovered in 2007. The recent closing of the Lowry Avenue Bridge has now been complicated by the scheduled Phase II reconstruction of Lowry Avenue between Girard Avenue and Queen Avenue. The reconstruction of the avenue is in the second phase of a three phase project that will stretch between I-94 and Theodore Wirth Parkway.
The County has been monitoring the Lowry Avenue Bridge on a regular basis since bridge engineers discovered foundation problems at the Pier 3 on the east side of the Mississippi navigational channel in the fall of 2004. During recent bridge inspections, engineers discovered that Pier 3 had rotated 11 inches out of vertical alignment. This rotation coupled with the increased temperatures expected this summer has created a reasonable risk to the public and Hennepin County officials decided to close the bridge at this time. Hennepin County Transportation Department Director Jim Grube stated, “The structure, we believe, is not in any imminent danger of collapse, but as the air temperature increases the situation could change without notice – that is our primary concern.”
The bridge had originally been scheduled for replacement beginning in 2009 with completion in 2011. Hennepin County had planned to keep the structure open for another year pending approval of state funds for the replacement. Hennepin County approved the Lowry Avenue bridge replacement project as its No. 1 state bonding request in summer of 2006. As of Camden News press time it was not known if funding was included in the compromise bonding bill recently passed by the legislature. Further information regarding the Lowry Bridge can be found at www.lowryavenuebridge.com, or contact the Hennepin County project manager Jacob Bronder at Jacob.email@example.com or 612-596-0372.
The Phase II reconstruction of Lowry Avenue, between Penn and Girard, began in early May. Improvements that will be included in the reconstruction of Lowry Avenue are new storm sewers, curbs and gutters, pavement, sidewalks, retaining walls, and traffic signal systems. The City of Minneapolis will also be cleaning the water main along the project and while this work is being completed there will be temporary water service to all affected local businesses and residents. (While North Minneapolis will not see major water shutoffs, some folks may notice a drop in water pressure during the project, which will be completed in August.) CenterPoint Energy will be relocating the gas mains and Xcel Power will be moving the electrical service underground. Landscaping, bike lanes, and bump-out parking will also be included as part of the project.
The 2009 construction will be from Theodore Wirth Parkway to Queen Avenue. The project is scheduled to be completed in November 2009. Lowry Avenue will be completely closed during each segment of the project, and during the 2008 construction detours are routed along Penn, 26th, Fremont and Emerson Avenues. These detours will remain in place until approximately mid-November when the new roadway is ready for traffic. Busses will be detoured to 33rd and 34th Avenues. A map showing the detour routes can be found at www.hennepin.us.