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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge On Memorial Day

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony
Falls Bridge Lit Up In Red, White,
And Blue For Memorial Day 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.

One such special occasion was the weekend of May 25-28, 2012, to celebrate Memorial Day. The lighting scheme as a linear series of vertical red, white, and blue stripes, identical to the Veterans Tribute in November of 2011. However, while the Veterans Tribute featured the strips in motion crawling south across the river, for Memorial Day, the stripes on the east side of the bridge were not moving, but the stripes on the west side of the bridge were moving. The moving stripes require short exposure times that are only possible using very high camera ISO settings. However, with the stripes not moving on the east side of the bridge, it was possible to take some longer exposure photos with lower ISO settings to get better images.

The photo above is the downstream east face of the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge as seen from the south riverbank. The vantage point is standing near the south main bridge pier of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge, located just downstream of the I-35W bridge.

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
This photo is another view of the downstream east face of the I-35W bridge as seen from the bicycle trail that runs between the river and the West River Parkway. We are again looking north across the Mississippi River in this photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking north across the Mississippi River along the downstream east face of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The LED light panels are located under the edge of the bridge deck. They point towards the bridge, illuminating the underside of the deck and the side of the concrete spans.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking north across the Mississippi River along the upstream west face of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point is a small clearing above the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam that can be accessed from the bicycle trail running along the West River Parkway. The colors were moving on this side of the bridge. Note that it is blue directly above the main bridge pier at the right edge of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo was taken from the same location as the photo directly above, showing the upstream west face of the I-35W bridge. In this view, the pier on the right side of the photo is partly red, and partly blue, demonstrating that the light effect is indeed moving.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River from directly under the gap between the two parallel bridge spans. The vantage point is the walkway leading down to the observation deck at the base of the piers. From this location, the bridge looks like it is lit up in its normal blue. The only hints of the light show are the tinges of purple along the bottom of the outside piers, and the small right spot at the top of the outside piers.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking south towards the south bridge abutment. The curved blue lines are the bridge monument, which is modeled after the international symbol for running water. The monument is above the traffic deck, so we are looking up at a 45-degree angle. Light from the street lamps above the traffic lanes creates the inverted V pattern.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the downstream side of the south bridge abutment as seen from the sidewalk along the West River Parkway. Downtown Minneapolis is located just west of the location. The building visible in the distance under the bridge is the Guthrie Theater.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the downstream east side of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is about halfway up the river bluff on the south side of the Mississippi River. The camera is located just below the level of the bridge structure, putting us about 75 feet above the water level

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is my favorite view of the I-35W bridge as seen from the top of the river bluff on the south side of the river. I was actually standing just under the upstream edge of the 10th Avenue Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River parallel to and just downstream from the I-35W bridge. The camera is located about 120 feet above the water level at this location. This allows us to see the street lights above the bridge, and just barely make out the guard rail along the edge of the bridge deck.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking south across the Mississippi River. The vantage point is standing next to the north main bridge pier of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. This is a great location in the winter when the trees are bare, but a good chunk of the bridge is obscured in the summer by the leaves. The main river span is on the right half of the photo. The green sign in the background is the Holiday Inn Metrodome.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking south across the Mississippi River along the downstream east face of the structure. The bridge has a slight curve on the north end as it flares out for the exit ramps to University Avenue and 4th Street. The LED light panels run down the outside edge of the bridge, and are pointed towards the bridge structure.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the secondary span at the north end of the I-35W bridge. This span crosses over an old railroad yard. There is still one track that runs along the edge of the river bluff, but it is rarely used. There is also a service road for the University of Minnesota passing under the structure. The north bridge abutment is on the right side of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking west towards the south main bridge piers of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is the deck of Northern Pacific Bridge #9, and old railroad bridge that has been converted into a bicycle path. The lock and dam is located next to the bridge piers, but it was too late at night for it to be lit up.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is another view looking upstream from Northern Pacific Bridge #9, with downtown Minneapolis located in the background. This night, May 26, 2012, was stormy, overcast, and raining on and off. The cloud base was about 500 feet above the ground, which added a spooky glow to the downtown area and partially obscured the tops of the buildings. The black object in front of the I-35W bridge is the 10th Avenue Bridge, a large concrete arch bridge dating from the 1920s.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a closer view of the main bridge piers and downtown Minneapolis as seen from the north end of Northern Pacific Bridge #9. The two parallel yellow lines above the bridge piers is the Guthrie Theater. The yellow lighted sign to the right of the bridge piers is the Gold Medal Flour sign. The sign was abandoned in 1965 when the mill closed down, but it was refurbished and lit up in 1998 as part of the construction of the Mill City Museum. The two horizontal green lines are the 5th Street Towers, two tall buildings on the north edge of downtown.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking downstream towards the west face of the I-35W bridge. Our vantage point is the parking area at the Mill Ruins Park. The Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam is located just in front of the bridge. This photo is over-exposed just a bit to bring out the reflections on the surface of the Mississippi River.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These last two photos are looking downstream towards the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge from the deck of the Stone Arch Bridge. Due to the orientation of being 50 feet above the water, and the dam (with its 25 foot drop), the geometry doesn't work out to produce the same type of reflections on the surface of the river. The photo above is the full length of the bridge that is visible from the Stone Arch Bridge, while the photo below is a closer view focused on the main river span. This side of the bridge has the moving stripes. Compare the colors above the right pier, which is red in the upper photo, but blue in the lower photo.

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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