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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge In Safety Orange

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge
Lit Up In Safety Orange To Commemorate
Workers Memorial Day On April 27, 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 April 27, 2012, MN-DOT lit up the bridge in safety orange to commemorate Workers Safety Day. This event is a memorial to highway workers who have lost their lives while working on MN-DOT projects and highway maintenance. Since 1960, 33 MN-DOT employees and 15 employees of contract firms have been killed working on highways across the state, including two workers this past summer who were struck by an inattentive driver only a few blocks from my home on McAndrews Road in Burnsville.

Workers Safety Day is part of National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, a national campaign to alert motorists of the hazards faced by construction workers. In 2012, the event was in its 13th year. As far as I know, this is the second time that MN-DOT has lit up the I-35W bridge in safety orange, with the previous event being on April 28, 2011.

The photo above is a view of the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge from the south river bank standing on the bicycle trail right next to the south main bridge pier of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. This view is looking northwest across the Mississippi River towards the downstream face of the structure.

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 view is looking northwest towards the downstream east face of the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is on the south side of the West River Parkway where the trail leading down from Northern Pacific Bridge #9 crosses the parkway near the 10th Avenue Bridge.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River along the upstream west face of the bridge. The vantage point is a small clearing just off of the sidewalk running along West River Parkway.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is looking north across the Mississippi River looking though the main bridge piers. The vantage point is the sidewalk leading down to the observation deck on the south side of the river. The observation deck is the lighted area around the bridge piers.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River towards the north main bridge piers as seen from the observation deck on the south side of the river. There is an observation deck under the north bridge piers, but it is fenced off and not open to the public.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking north across the river along the downstream south face of the bridge from about half way up the bluffs on the south side of the river. This is perhaps the least obstructed view of the bridge that is available.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is similar to the photo above, but is taken from the top of the bluffs. This puts the camera at about the same level as the traffic deck. The trick to this vantage point is trying to get a photo with the bridge railing lit up. Since this was taken around midnight, there simply wasn't enough traffic in the far right northbound lanes to keep the guardrail lit up, but I was able to catch one photo with a truck crossing the bridge. That produced the two red streaks, the lower of which is interrupted by the guardrail vertical support beams.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking west from near the south end of the Northern Pacific Bridge #9. The I-35W bridge is hidden behind the large concrete arches of the 10th Avenue Bridge, but the reflections of the orange light from the bridge add a dramatic look to the Mississippi River waters.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a telephoto view of the south main bridge piers as seen from near the north end of Northern Pacific Bridge #9. In this scene, we see the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam located just upstream from the main bridge piers, as well as a great view of the Minneapolis skyline.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is one of the LED light panels located at the base of one of the south main bridge piers. These panels are installed in a drainage basin at the base of the piers, and are pointed upwards to illuminate the piers and the saddle structure at the top of the piers. In this view, the light appears to be orange.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the same view as the photo directly above, but at a much shorter exposure. This allows us to see the individual LED lamps in the light panels. The panels are made up of red, blue, and green lamps, but to make the orange, only the red and green lamps are turned on. In comparing this photo to the Halloween photos, it appears that it is the same color of orange.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the base of two of the main bridge piers as seen from the observation deck on the south side of the river.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking straight up towards the saddle structure at the top of the main bridge piers. While it appears that the saddle helps support the bridge spans, it is actually a purely decorative element. In fact, you can see the access doors that provide access for crews to enter the saddle and inspect the bearings at the top of the bridge piers.

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 Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is standing next to the north main bridge pier of the 10th Avenue Bridge. This location is somewhat obstructed by the trees that grow along the river bluffs, but we still get a good view of the main span and the south main bridge piers. The green light in the distance is the Holiday Inn Metrodome.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking south across the Mississippi River through the north main bridge piers. The vantage point a University of Minnesota service access road that runs under the bridge along the rim of the bluffs that lead down to the river flats. The purple color on the two piers on the left are due to a malfunction in the lighting controllers that has some of the blue LED lamps locked on all the time. This has been broken for about a year.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is the secondary span on the north side of the river, plus a section of the main bridge span. The vantage point is the parking lot for Metal-Matic. Metal-Matic, located just northwest of the I-35W Bridge, is a world leader in welded steel tubing, such as found in boilers and heat exchangers.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking downstream to the east towards the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is the parking lot at Mill Ruins Park on the north side of the river in the river flats area. The structure located in front of the bridge is the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. The yellow area just left of the north main bridge piers is another spot where the lighting controller was malfunctioning.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These last two photos are views looking east from the deck of the Stone Arch Bridge. The photo above is a wider view, while the photo below is a closer view of the main river span. It was extremely windy that night due to a storm that was moving in. The wind was blowing the camera around even though I was using a sturdy tripod. I ended up going to a very high ISO setting to get a very short exposure. That allowed me to get a relatively clear photo, but the short exposure combined with the rough water meant that there was no reflection of the bridge lights from the river.

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

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