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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Wright Co Highway 42
Mississippi River Highway Crossing
Elk River, MN

Wright Co Highway 42

• Structure ID: NBI: 86515.
• Location: River Mile 884.6.
• River Elevation: 853 Feet.
• Highway: Co Highway 42.
• Daily Traffic Count: 4,600 (1996).
• Bridge Type: Concrete Girder.
• Length: 450 Feet, 112 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 2 Lanes, 46 Feet.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: 14 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened 1985.
This crossing was once MN-101. A new alignment was built for MN-101 just downstream on the south side of Elk River, where first one bridge was built, and later a 2nd span was added. The old MN-101 was turned back to the local counties and given county highway number 42. The official designation of CSAH-42 stands for County State-Aid Highway. A CSAH highway is an upper tier county highway that is supported with state highway money, and is normally maintained close to the same level as a state highway.

The photo above was taken in the spring of 2008 from an observation deck that was recently installed as part of a project to build a mixed-use building consisting of ground level retail space, professional offices, and condos on the upper level. This style of building is becoming increasingly popular across the metro area where former stand alone cities are now suburbs, and they want to create a new downtown style area as a regional anchor. Incorporating the observation deck was a very small part of the project, but it was a stroke of genius in reconnecting people with the river in an area that was otherwise blocked off.

The building in the background on the far left of the photo above is the Elk River Station, a powerplant owned by Great River Energy. This plant was built in 1950 as a coal and oil fired generator. It was converted to nuclear in 1963, becoming one of the first operating commercial nuclear powerplants in the nation. The nuclear reactor operated from 1963 to 1968, when the plant was converted back to coal and oil. The powerplant was converted again in 1989, this time to run on RDF, a term used for fuel derived from solid waste refuse.


Wright Co Highway 42
These photos are two views from late in 2008. The local construction projects are finished, and CSAH-42 is freshly paved. The photo above is just entering the bridge headed northbound, while the photo below is a view from halfway across the bridge as we pull up to the stop sign at the north end of the structure.

Wright Co Highway 42
Wright Co Highway 42
The photo above is a view of the CSAH-42 bridge looking southbound from the T-intersection at the north end of the bridge. The street is being rebuilt, so traffic is using a temporary lift of blacktop. A mixed-use downtown building is being built to the right of the bridge. As a result, that side of the bridge is fenced off, as well as the river for two blocks heading north. When competed, there will be an observation deck just to the right of the blue highway-42 sign. That view is shown in the photo at the very top of this page.

The photo below is view from the fall of 2005 from the east bank of the river, looking downriver to the east towards the bridge.


Wright Co Highway 42
Wright Co Highway 42
These two photos are two more views of the bridge from the fall of 2005, taken from the east bank of the river looking southwest. The river makes a tight loop at this location. The road heading south is essentially a peninsula with the river on each side for nearly a mile. These two photos show a good view the decorative features of the piers.

Wright Co Highway 42

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