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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge On Halloween

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge
Lit Up In Halloween Orange On October 31, 2011


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.

So far, I have seen the I-35W bridge lit up in blue, pink, red/white/blue, and a rainbow pattern. On April 28, 2011, MN-DOT lit up the bridge in safety orange for Workers Memorial Day. I was out of town that day, so I missed it. MN-DOT again displayed the bridge structure in orange for Halloween on October 31, 2011. This time, I was expecting the light show, so I had my camera and tripod handy to take this group of photos. While most of the bridge was glowing in pumpkin orange, the west face was showing blue. MN-DOT has been keeping the upstream face of the bridge lit up in blue to match the blue light in the Remembrance Garden memorial located a quarter mile west of the structure.

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 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.

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 looking northwest across the river channel from the bicycle trail that passes under the south end of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. The river channel is about 450 wide at this location.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a similar photo to the view directly above, but from a little shallower angle. The vantage point is the walking trail located along West River Parkway on the south side of the Mississippi River.

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 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 a strong wind had blown most of the leaves off of the trees early in the fall colors season. I don't know why this side of the bridge was showing blue. I suspect that there may have been a problem with the lighting controller.

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
The photo above is looking north along the upstream west face of the I-35W bridge, where the bridge face was lit up in blue. The vantage point is the sidewalk running along the West River Parkway.

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 2011. 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 is another view looking north across the Mississippi River from under the I-35W bridge. It is taken from the same location as the photo directly above, but with a wider view and a longer exposure. The orange light produced incredible reflections off of the water surface.

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.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a similar photo of a LED light panel, but at a much shorter exposure. It shows that the orange light is composed of red and green, with the blue lights turned off.

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 brilliant orange reflection that almost looks like the water is on fire. The photo below is looking southwest across the river to position the downtown lights over the south end of the I-35W bridge. The structure under the bridge is the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam.

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

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