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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge Detour

Photo Tour Of The I-35W Bridge Detour
Traveling Southbound Via 10th Avenue


I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The official marked detour for I-35W following the August 1, 2007, bridge disaster followed I-94 and MN-280. While the marked detour was an excellent option, it was also fun to use the old highway and cross the river on the 10th Avenue Bridge. This allowed sidewalk superintendents to check out the progress on the building of the new Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. This path followed I-35W to the Washington Avenue exit, Washington Avenue to 10th Avenue, a brief jog onto 4th Street, and then back onto I-35W.

In this photo tour, we follow that path from north to south, noting interesting signs and highway features along the way. Note that many of these photos were shot looking directly into the sun, so the contrast may suffer a bit.

Note—these materials are covered by copyright and may not be used without written permission.

The photo above is the start of our journey. We are on MN-36 in Roseville, Minnesota, headed westbound towards I-35W. We have just passed the Rosedale Mall, and are now passing a strip of businesses including the Hummer automobile dealer. The orange sign informs motorists that I-35W is closed, and suggests that people driving towards the University of Minnesota or the Metrodome use the MN-280 marked detour.

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
In the photo above, we are crossing the overpass over I-35W, which makes a rather sharp turn under this bridge. We will join the main I-35W lanes just after this overpass. The two orange signs remind motorists that I-35W traffic should use the MN-280 detour.

In the photo below, we continue south on I-35W towards the bridge disaster site. MN-280 has just branched off of I-35W. In fact, you can see some workers on the right side of the photo who are doing maintenance work on MN-280. The orange sign informs motorists of a temporary park and ride lot at exit #22. Metro Transit added a number of bus routes and parking lots to help accommodate traffic during the time that I-35W was closed.

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
In the photo above, we are on I-35W headed southbound past the village of Saint Anthony. This is one of the best views of the downtown skyline, especially at night.

In the photo below, we continue south on I-35W, passing the Quarry shopping center. The big orange sign notes that I-35W is closed and the freeway ends one and a half miles ahead. Note the lack of traffic in these photos.

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
How would you like to reserve your own personal freeway that nobody else is allowed to drive on? That seemed possible for a brief period of time on I-35W north of downtown Minneapolis. The photo above is the Broadway Street overpass. The signs state that both the right and left lanes end. That doesn't leave many options. Actually, the far left and far right lanes end, leaving the center lanes for traffic. The photo below is a pedestrian walkway. Prior to this sign, we knew that I-35W would end. Now, we know where. 4th Street and University Avenue is the last interchange before the Mississippi River bridge that collapsed.

Did you happen to notice something interesting about the bridge in the photo above? Notice the location of the bridge pier and the bridge girders. It appears that the pier does not carry most of the girders. This is somewhat of an optical illusion. There are actually two bridges, the first a highway bridge, the second a railroad bridge. They run at slight angles to each other. As a result, the pier for the highway overpass is out of the photo, and its girders appear to be suspended in mid-air. The railroad bridge pier is a bit further in the distance, so its pier is in the photo.

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway main railroad line bridge over I-35W. This busy railroad connects the BNSF Intermodal Yard (where they handle containers) and the Central Avenue and Riverside Yards in north central Minneapolis. The large yellow sign warns that the freeway is coming to an end, and that motorists should slow down.

The photo below is the 8th Street overpass over I-35W. We are near the point where I-35W ends north of the river. Orange barrels are slowing closing off lanes and pushing traffic to the right edge of the highway.

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
In the photo above, the I-35W freeway lanes are closed, and traffic is forced onto the 4th Street exit ramps. Motorists have the choice of taking 4th Street to the right towards the area north of downtown, or go forward a block and turn left towards the University of Minnesota. The second choice gives access to the 10th Avenue Bridge. That bridge has been covered on the northbound trip, so we end our journey here.

The photo below is turning from the I-35W frontage road onto eastbound University Avenue. The new Saint Anthony Falls Bridge is directly to the south of this overpass. Workers are scrambling to finish the bridge in time for the contractor, Flatiron, to get the maximum bonus for early completion of the project.

I-35W Bridge Detour Southbound, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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