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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Minnesota River Bicycle Trail Crossing
Bloomington, MN to Shakopee, MN

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 27A41.
• Location: River Mile 18.1.
• River Elevation: 692 Feet.
• Highway: Bloomington Ferry Bicycle Trail.
• Daily Traffic Count: 0 (Bicycles And Pedestrians Only).
• Bridge Type: Steel Plate Girder.
• Length: 448 Feet.
• Width: ???.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: ???.
• Date Built: Opened 1998.
This is the location of the old Bloomington Ferry Bridge. The old bridge carried CSAH-18 over the Minnesota River. That bridge was closed when the new Bloomington Ferry Bridge opened about a mile up stream. There was a desire to reuse the old bridge as a regional trail bridge. It was found, however, that the old bridge would require too much repair work to make it safe to reopen. As a result, it was removed in the late 1990s. A new steel plate girder pedestrian bridge was constructed in place of the old bridge.

The old bridge had a sharp right hand turn and steep hill on the north end, and a long approach road on the south end that hugged the river bank. The old bridge is interesting in that it was a swing bridge, and it was closed due to deterioration in 1976. The structure of that bridge was removed, and new fixed span bridge was constructed on the existing swing span piers.

The river often flooded and washed out the south approach road. The crossing would be flooded out and closed for months at a time about one year out of every three. Not only was this a major problem for traffic, but the floods would damage the roadway. In some cases, the flood would cut away the edge of river, causing the road to collapse into the river.

The new trail bridge features spans of 90 feet, 255 feet, and 90 feet. The steel in the main span is 10 feet tall over the piers, and thins out to be 5-1/2 feet tall over the center of the span. This is called a formed-shape girder. This is one of the longest formed-shape steel girder pedestrian bridges, and it pushed the limits of the technology when it was built. The photo above gives an overview of the bridge and its surroundings.


Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
These two photos are from early fall of 2008. The photo above was taken from the side of the north abutment. The cut stone facing on the pier is visible. The photo below was taken from water level, and shows the long main channel span.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
The photo above is a view of the bridge from early spring of 2006. Notice the vast difference in the amount of brush and trees near the bridge. The bridge was built very high in order for the abutments to be above the 100 year flood line.

The photo below is the first of 3 photos that shows a typical bridge crossing from south to north. In this photo, we are just entering the south end of the bridge.


Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
These two photos complete the bridge crossing while heading from south to north towards Bloomington. In the photo above, we are directly over the south bridge pier. In the photo below, we have reached the mid-point of the main span and we are starting the downhill side of the bridge.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
The photo above is an early fall view of the river looking upstream from midway across the bridge. The photo below is also looking upstream of the Minnesota River, but from a vantage point near the north end of the bridge. The bicycle trail is visible along the far shoreline.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
The photo above is a view of the bicycle trail that heads southwest from the Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge. The trail follows the path of the former Scott County Highway 18. This area floods frequently. In past years, it would often close the road for months at a time. In this photo, we see large chunks of pavement have been lifted off of the trail by flood waters. The photo below shows this section of pavement after it was carried 20 feet from the trail and deposited in a drainage ditch.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
These two photos, and the four that follow, are views from the spring flood of 2010. These two photos are views of the downriver east side of the Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge. The photo above is a view from the north shore of the river, while the photo below is a view from near the north bridge abutment.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
The photo above is an overview of the main Minnesota River channel crossing. The photo below is a view of the bridge deck looking to the south from mid-span. This was a very sunny March day. In fact, the weather was unusually mild, causing the spring runoff to arrive about two weeks earlier than what has typically been seen in the past.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
The photo above is the trail on the south side of the river as it disappears under the flood water. The path connects to the old County Road 18 right-of-way. This frequent flooding of the highway lead to the construction of the new Bloomington Ferry Bridge. The photo below is a view of the riverbank on the south side of the main channel. This area is under several feet of water, and the river itself is normally about ten feet below the top of the riverbank. The high water is constrained by the bluffs on the north and the Union Pacific railroad tracks along highways 13 and 101 on the south, a distance of over a mile.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge
I visited the Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge again in October of 2010 when a rare autumn flood occurred on the Minnesota river after a very large rain storm inundated southern Minnesota. As the photo above shows, the water was very near to the top of the bridge piers. Since the water overflowed the river banks, I could not get past the brush and trees to get a clear view of the structure. The photo below, looking south towards the north end of the bridge, shows just how dense the greenery is around the bridge. Compare this to the spring views above.

Bloomington Ferry Trail Bridge

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