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John A. Weeks III
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 10:40:44 PM CDT
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
US-169 Minnesota River Crossing
Bloomington, MN and Eden Prairie, MN to Shakopee, MN

Bloomington Ferry Bridge

Northbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI: 27624A.
• Length: 1.107 Miles (5,848 Feet).
 
Southbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI: 27624B.
• Length: 1.109 Miles (5,855 Feet).
 
Statistics Common To Both Spans
• Location: River Mile 18.7.
• River Elevation: 692 Feet.
• Highway: US-169.
• Daily Traffic Count: 14,000 (1996).
• Bridge Type: Concrete Girder, Steel Girder Main Span.
• Width: 52 Feet Per Span, 3 Lanes Per Span.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: 43 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened 1996.
The new Bloomington Ferry Bridge was built on a new alignment that followed the old County Highway 18 straight south across the Minnesota River. County 18 was upgraded to a 4-lane expressway, then renamed to be US-169 when the bridge was completed. At the same time, new US-169 freeway was built around Shakopee starting at the south end of the new bridge. Later on, the Pioneer Trail and Anderson Lakes Parkway intersections, located north of the new bridge, were converted to full freeway interchanges, leaving just one grade crossing on US-169 south of I-494 in the metro area.

The new Bloomington Ferry Bridge has been the catalyst for a major boom in Savage, Shakopee, and Scott County. Prior to the new bridge, the old river crossing would flood every second or third spring, and sometimes again in the summer. The typical flood would close the crossing for a month, and cause significant damage to the approach road. Even when the old river crossing was high and dry, it was often a traffic bottleneck.

The photo above is the main river channel spans looking to the west from the south bank of the Minnesota River. While the majority of the bridge is built using precast concrete girders, the main river channel spans use steel plate girders. In addition, the piers are decorated with stone, while the remaining piers are raw concrete. The steel has additional plates welded to the girders above the piers to increase the strength of the beams. These details are rarely seen given that the main span is hidden deep within the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge and cannot be seen from any public location other than by hiking into the refuge.


Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are the first of a three photo set showing a typical river crossing headed southbound towards Savage and Shakopee. In the photo above, we are just entering the north end of the western of the two bridge spans. In the photo below, we are crossing the main channel of the Minnesota River.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is the final photo of a three photo set showing a southbound river crossing. This photo is near the south end of the structure, where an exit branches off to provide access to MN-13 and CSAH-101.

The photo below is the first of a three photo set showing a typical northbound river crossing heading into Bloomington and Eden Prairie. This photo is the view just after entering the eastern of the two bridge spans from the south. The ramp merging in from the right is the ramp from westbound CSAH-101 (the former MN-101).


Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are the final two photos of a three photo set showing a typical northbound river crossing. In the photo above, we are nearing the main channel span over the Minnesota River. The photo below is near the north end of the structure. The right lane will branch off as an exit ramp to Old Shakopee Road.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is the main river spans looking to the west from the south bank of the Minnesota River. The photo below are the abutments at the south end of the structure looking to the east.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are views from under the south end of the structure. The access road to this location is open during the fall to allow duck hunters access to the wetlands south of the river. The photo above is looking north from the gap between the two spans. The photo below is the view from under the northbound span. Both photos are looking to the north.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
I was able to visit the north end of the Bloomington Ferry Bridge in late autumn of 2010. This photo, plus the next 17 that follow, are from that excursion. The photo above is a view along the trail leading to the bridge on the north side of the Minnesota River. This trail follows a 2/3-mile long haul road that was built to provide access to the bridge site for construction crews. This road was very controversial at the time due to being built without permits. MN-DOT and the contractors had secured all the needed permits for the highway bridge, but overlooked the haul road. The issue was resolved, but not without a lot of negative publicity. The photo below is the first view of the bridge structure when walking westbound on the haul road. The bridge transitions from steel spans over the river channel to concrete girder approach spans at this location.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are looking north from under the bridge spans from a vantage point near the north bank of the main river channel. The photo above is under the northbound lanes, with the southbound lanes to the left. The photo below is from under the southbound lanes, with the northbound lanes at the right edge of the photo.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is a view of the northbound lane structure just north of the haul road. The photo below is a closer view of one of the large T-shaped piers. Note the graffiti on the piers. It looks like the urban artists have been busy. I didn't see any trash or debris around the piers, which suggests that the artists follow the wildlife refuge rules of carrying out anything that you carry in.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is a close view of one of the more vivid works of urban art. This is a fresh painting. All of the other paintings were washed out and covered with silt from the recent late-season flood. The photo above is a close view of the transition from steel spans to concrete spans at the first pier on the north side of the river channel.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is looking north along the east side of the northbound traffic lanes near the north bridge abutment. This location was the end of an access road running along the downstream side of the bridge. The ground is swampy and has pools of open water between this vantage point and the slope leading to the abutment. The photo below is looking west under the bridge spans. It is interesting to note that some of the piers supporting the southbound spans have two concrete legs rather than one larger concrete vertical member.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is looking north between the two bride spans towards the north bridge abutment. The two-legged piers support the southbound lanes. The photo below is looking west towards the forest on the far side of the southbound lanes.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is a close view of a mid-channel pier supporting the steel girder spans for the southbound lanes. The piers that support the steel girder spans are clad with a cut stone veneer. I was surprised to see any decorative elements since this bridge is otherwise not dressed up. Further, this location was be seen by so few people that any decorations would go largely unseen. Perhaps there is a reason for the stone facing. These spans do have a tapered bottom to help break up and deflect ice. The photo below is looking south across the Minnesota River between the two bridge spans.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is looking towards the bottom of one of the steel girder bridge spans. The photo below is a close view of the main river channel spans. The steel girders are highly engineered. They are cut to shape from long steel plates. The top and bottom flanges are then welded on, and stiffeners are welded to the sides. Sections of girder are delivered to the site, lifted with a crane, and then crews bolt the together using long gusset plates.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are looking southwest towards the steel girder river channel spans from the north bank of the Minnesota River. The photo above is from a vantage point closer to the bridge than the photo below, allowing for a view of the transition to concrete spans on the south side of the river. The photo below shows more of the main river channel spans.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
The photo above is an electronic sign located above the southbound lanes of Interstate highway I-494 in Minnetoka, announcing that two bridges over the Minnesota River are closed, and that travelers should use US-169 as an alternative. These bridge closings in the spring of 2011 were the third time in 12 months that they were closed due to flooding on the Minnesota River. In an attempt to alieviate heavy traffic on the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, MN-DOT restriped the bridge for an additional lane. The photo below is the first of three photos showing the temporary pavement markings heading northbound at the south end of the bridge.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are additonal views of the temporary lane markings heading northbound across the Bloomington Ferry Bridge. The photo above is the straight section of the bridge on the south side of the main river channel. A third lane was added by usign the shoulders. THe photo above is the middle of the bridge, where a temporary fourth lane was in place.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Bridge
These two photos are heading southbound across the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, where an additional lane was added as a temporary measure during the spring flood of 2011. The photo above is the north end of the Ferry Bridge, where the shoulder was used for a narrow third lane. The photo below shows the temporary fourth lane near the main river span. The overhead sign for highways 13 and 101 was modified to show that two lanes were available for the exit rather than just one lane.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge

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