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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge On St. Patrick's Day

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge
Lit Up In Green On March 17, 2012


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge features an innovative LED lighting system where each LED element is individually addressable, allowing any color in the spectrum to be displayed. On most nights, the bridge is bathed in a eerie blue glow that looks like something out of a science fiction movie. However, the bridge is occassionaly lit up in other colors for special occasions.

On March 17, 2012, MN-DOT continued the recent tradition of lighting up the bridge in celebration of holidays and civic events by turning the lights green in honor of Saint Patrick. Unlike other recent light displays where the upstream side remained blue in honor of the collapse victims, on this display, both sides of the bridge were illuminated in green. Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in the Twin Cities, especially in Saint Paul, not as much for the religious aspect as it is for the adult beverage consumption. Adding to the excitement was record high temperatures for March, with the mercury reaching 80 degrees making it the warmest Saint Patrick's day on record.

The photo above is a view of the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge from the top of the bluff on the north side of the Mississippi River. The vantage point is right next to the north main bridge pier of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. There is just enough of a gap in the brush to get a nice view of the main channel span. Once the leaves come out, this view will most likely be obstructed.

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


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is my favorite view of the I-35W Bridge from the bluffs on the south side of the river. The vantage point is located next to the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge and the viewing location is almost eye level with the traffic deck. The trick to this location is to have a short enough exposure to show the true color of the light while having a long enough exposure to allow head and tail lights on cars to illuminate the guard rail. In this case I struck out on the guardrail, there simply wasn't enough traffic this late at night to catch a photo where the guardrail was lit up.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the downstream side of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point is the south side of the West River Parkway about halfway between the I-35W bridge and the 10th Avenue Bridge.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is also from the south side of the river, but just a little further downstream than the photo above. The vantage point is the bicycle path where it curves to pass under the 10th Avenue Bridge.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is from essentially the same vantage point on the south side of the Mississippi River, but it is closer view that centers on the south main bridge piers. The white lights at the base of the piers illuminate the bridge observation deck.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River through the bridge piers towards the far end of the structure. The vantage point is the sidewalk that runs along West River Parkway where a walkway leads down to the bridge observation deck.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north along the east face of the I-35W bridge from directly under the edge of the bridge deck. The vantage point is the sidewalk leading down to the observation deck on the south side of the river.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River from the observation deck located under the south end of the I-35W bridge. There is a similar observation deck on the north side of the river, but it is not yet open to the public as of 2012. There is a second set of piers behind the main bridge piers that is partially obscured by a large gravel pile that is part of a sewer line project just downstream of the bridge site. The light located at the far end of the bridge between the two bridge spans is the monument on the north end of the bridge. The river is about 430 feet wide at this location.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the upstream side of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point is a small clearing along the sidewalk on the West River Parkway. This view is often much more obstructed by leaves, but in this case, the leaves have not come out yet this year.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking east towards the I-35W bridge as it passes over the West River Parkway. The south bridge abutment is on the right side of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking west towards the bridge spans as they pass over the West River Parkway. The vantage point is standing directly under the 10th Avenue Bridge. The crosswalk that is lit up is where the trail leading down from the Northern Pacific Bridge #9 crosses West River Parkway to meet the trail that runs along the west bank of the Mississippi River.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking downstream towards the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge from the deck of the Stone Arch Bridge. The bridge deck is about 50 feet above the water. The Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam is located just in front of the I-35W Bridge, which serves to block what would otherwise be an excellent reflection on the surface of the river.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a view looking downstream towards the west face of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point is the parking area at the east end of Mill Ruins Park. This is the best side view of the bridge available from near the water line. The lower dam is blocking part of the view of the bridge piers, but the still water behind the dam makes for some good reflections.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a closer view of the north main bridge piers as seen from the access road leading to the upstream side of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. The dam structure is partially blocking our view of the bridge from this side of the river (the south river bank).

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking south across the river from the edge of the cliff on the north side of the river. Interestingly, it appears that the light panels are not working properly on the north side of the main bridge piers on the north side of the river (left side of this photo). The orange light between the piers on the right side of the photo is the marker light at the downstream exit of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a view looking southwest towards the I-35W Bridge from an empty lot located between the new bridge and the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge on the north side of the river. While the entire length of the bridge is visible at this location, much of main channel span would be blocked by trees in the summer, and the piers are not visible since they are located in the gorge beyond the bluff.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is the north bridge span and north bridge abutment. This span crosses an old railroad yard. Main Street will eventually be extended east under this bridge span to connect to the East River Parkway and the future Granery Road project. This photo is overexposed a bit to show the ground the the secondary bridge piers, which are not lit with LED lights.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is looking up towards the downstream edge of the bridge deck. A row of LED light panels is located just under the edge of the bridge deck, which shines light on the side of the bridge structure. The darker structure on the left side of the photo is the saddle structure at the top of a bridge pier. A pair of doors provide inspectors access to the bridge bearings.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the base of one of the main bridge piers. The grating covers a water drain. The LED light panels for each side of each of the main bridge piers are also located under the grate. A guard rail keeps visitors away from the drain and the LED light panels.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is one of the light panels located at the base of a main bridge pier. The panels are made up of large LED lamps. They are arranged in a series with red, blue, and green lamps. A computerized controller can address each lamp individually, allowing for any color in the spectrum to be created. Panels at the base of the piers light up the piers, while panels along the edge of the bridge spans light up the sides of the structure. This view shows that the green light is composed mostly of green, but a bit of red and a tiny amount of blue added to to the mix.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is the base of the two main bridge piers on the south side of the river supporting the upstream bridge span. The darker areas on the side of the bridge piers are places were graffiti has been painted over.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking up towards the saddle structures at the top of the bridge piers. Note that the lighting system creates a bright spot on the piers where the piers bend back outwards just under the access doors under the bridge deck.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos are looking upstream from Northern Pacific Bridge Number 9, an old railroad bridge over the Mississippi River that has been converted to pedestrian and bicycle use. The 10th Avenue Bridge is partially blocking the view of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, which makes for a good effect since the concrete arch bridge shows up as a black shadow in front of the I-35W Bridge lights. The photo above is a wide shot from near the south side if the river showing a nice green reflection making it look like the river was colored the same shade of green as the beer being served at area bars. The photo below is looking southwest across the river to position the downtown lights over the south end of the I-35W bridge.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

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