MnDOT announced today that office drop-in hours for the Lafayette Bridge (Highway 52) replacement over the Mississippi River in St. Paul will be held 8-10 a.m. next Thursday at 222 East Plato Boulevard in St. Paul. I’ve been less successful at finding out what people will find when they get there in terms of how the bridge is going to be replaced in 2011. MnDOT did not return phone calls and e-mails to provide that information.
The bridge, for me, is one of the scarier ones. Its rating is worse than that of the ill-fated I-35W structure, and it’s also a fracture-critical bridge, meaning — like the I-35W bridge — if part of it goes, the whole thing goes.
MnDOT officials have assured us there’s nothing to worry about and while I accept their engineering expertise, I admit to being partial to bridges that at least look like they’re not duct-taped together. Give me a can of Rustoleum and a few hours on the Lafayette’s underbelly, and I’d feel a lot better.
This being a gorgeous Minnesota day, I went over to the bridge and, frankly, I was less scared than when I made a similar trip a few days after the August 1 collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis. But maybe I’m just getting used to Minnesota’s bridges.
Still, I’m no fan of rusty girders…
Corroded plates with exposed and rusted rivet heads…
Plywood and 2 x 4s under the decking…
And I’ve been nervous about pigeon poo ever since some experts speculated that it might’ve had something to do with the I-35W tragedy.
Ugly? Yeah. But it’s not exactly the bridge in Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade Temple of Doom.
We’ll be interested to find out — maybe next week — how the bridge will be replaced. Will they build another one next to it and then knock it down? Or will 81,000 cars a day be routed through downtown St. Paul and over the Robert St. bridge (and back onto 52 via Plato?).