Replacing Lafayette


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?).

  • Joel

    Damn those pigeons. Obviously, it’s all their fault…or at least the main culprit…

  • flashmcduff

    Your photo is of the bridge from Temple of Doom, not Last Crusade (whose “bridge” may be even scarier than all of them….it’s invisible)

  • Bob Collins

    You’re right! I watched the marathon on TV over the weekend and they all blended together. The bridge in that one… wasn’t that the one where he had to step on bricks that spelled Jehovah? Only he stepped on the “J” first as he realized that in Latin, it begins with an “I”? Yeah, that was scary.

  • Joel

    Did you notice the mistake they made in continuity during the filming of that sequence? When he stepped on “J” and that stone fell away to nothingness, he grabbed some other letter, like “H” (not “I”). That letter, the one he grabbed as he was falling, should then have crumbled away as well. God must have been feeling merciful at that moment. Maybe too merciful if the newest Indiana flick is as bad as CityPages claims it is.

  • steve

    haha killer pigeon

    MnDot needs all the funding they can get.

  • c

    don’t under estimate the power of pigeon poop. there are some supersized pigeons who have been hopping between my eaves and the neighbors ever since i can remember. leaving a nasty pile of acidic pigeon excrament on the cement.


    since i have been listening to your news cut with mary lucia i have learned about the spikes. so i have pounded some nails in boards and put them in the places under the eaves where they have been nesting. i know mary would not appreciate this but this only detours them from nesting under the eaves so at least i am not killing them.

    i had a neighbor who used to soak corn in whiskey and leave it up on the roof top. supposedly the pigeons would eat the corn get drunk and stumble off the roof. perhaps mn dot should marinate corn in whiskey and leave the kernels on the girders.

  • G-man

    I like the plywood and 2X4’s – that should stand up to any semi. I hope they remembered the Thompson’s Water Seal.

  • Jamie

    Ha! Killer pigeon!

    I just don’t do that bridge. I gladly go out of my way to avoid it.

    I had no idea there was plywood helping to hold it together! That’s even worse. I’m sending a link to this to all my friends and acquaintences.