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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge On Christmas

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony Falls
Bridge Lit Up In Holiday Red And Green
For Christmas, December 25, 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.

I generally travel over the Christmas holidays, but in 2012, I happened to stay in town (the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul), so I was able to visit the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge to see it lit up in red and green to celebrate the holiday. Unlike last year, where we had warm temperatures throughout December, this year was cold with quite a bit of snow on the ground. That made for a cold walk down to the bridge. Since my fingers were really cold, I didn't take the time to use a tripod for long exposure photos. Rather, I used high ISO to get fast hit and run type of photos. As a result, they are a little less sharp than some of the other I-35W light shows that I have photographed. This also required lower F-stop settings, which leads to depth of field issues where things in the background get blurry.

The photo above is looking northwest towards the downstream face of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is the bicycle trail as it passes under the nearby 10th Avenue 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
The photo above is the downstream side of the north abutment. From this close view, one can see the yellow-orange area between the red and green where the two colors overlap. The red light in the background is the Gold Medal Flour sign high above the Mill City Museum. The photo below is the east face of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge as seen from the bicycle trail leading down to West River Parkway. Note the oncoming traffic under the bridge heading southbound on West River Parkway.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is another view of the downstream face of the bridge looking north across West River Parkway. The Mississippi River flows between the two sets of main bridge piers about 40 feet below our elevation at this vantage point. The photo below is a closer view of the south main bridge piers.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is the north main bridge piers as seen from the south side of the Mississippi River. The light system was having problems earlier this summer in the section located north of the north main bridge piers. The lights are functioning correctly in this view, so those problems appear to have been corrected. The photo below is looking down the length of the east face of the structure as seen from the north side of West River Parkway.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is looking north across the Mississippi River directly under the east edge of the bridge traffic deck. The row of LED light panels located along the edge of the bridge structure is visible from this angle. The light shines towards the bridge beams, lighting the underside of the deck and the outside face of the beams. The main bridge piers are light from the ground level. The photo below is looking north across the Mississippi River as seen from directly under the gap between the two parallel bridge spans. There is an observation deck located at the base of each set of bridge piers, but only the south observation deck is open to the public.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos are views of the upstream north face of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. MN-DOT tends to keep this side blue following the opening of the nearby Memorial Garden in honer of the 13 who died in the collapse of the previous bridge. The photo above is from the sidewalk along West River Parkway. The photo below is a closer view from amongst the brush along the bluffs leading down to the river between the parkway and the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. Note the red and green segments of light under the bridge deck. These lights mark the river navigation channel for boats exiting the lower boat lock.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos are views of the downstream east face of the structure as seen from the old railroad yard on top of the river bluff on the north side of the Mississippi River. The photo above is taken from the edge of the cliff leading down to the river flats, while the photo below is taken under the 10th Avenue Bridge near 2nd Street SE. This view is only possible during the winter months when the trees have lost their leaves.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is the north bridge abutment and secondary span at the north end of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The vantage point is the University of Minnesota access road that runs along the old railroad road bed leading to the Stone Arch Bridge. The photo below is the view looking west from Northern Pacific Bridge #9, with the unlit 10th Avenue Bridge showing up as a dark shadow blocking much of our view of the I-35W Bridge, but allowing for some nice reflections off of the icy surface of the Mississippi River.

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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