A large three section steel truss bridge stood at this location from 1934 to 2005. The steel truss bridge was obsolete as far as bridges go, but it may have still had more life if the 2001 flood had not happened. During that flood, the rushing waters scoured the soil from around the two piers that sat in the river channel. That action mortally wounded the structure. MN-DOT was able to bring in rip-rap to shore up the piers and abutments, but that was a temporary action at best. The bridge became unsafe and had to be closed, and then removed to make way for a new bridge.
The National Bridge Inventory record for the old bridge is still in the NBI database as bridge number 5260. It is listed as 457 feet long and 27 feet wide, both shorter and narrower than the new bridge.
The new MN-25 bridge is a steel girder bridge, which is a bit unusual compared to most new bridges in Minnesota of that size. The bridge is decorated with monuments at each corner, decorative iron works, a fancy railing, green paint highlights, and retro style street lamps. More importantly, the bridge is raised up high enough that it should not flood, at least not in the routine floods that happen every other and every third year. The approach road to the north does look like it is much lower, and probably would flood.
Belle Plaine has a very rich history. It was a major landing for the river boat traffic prior to 1900. A number of industries sprang up in the area, some that went by the wayside, others that are still running. Perhaps the most unusual of those industries was the late 1990s attempt to revive the Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle brand. The founders raised nearly $100-million dollars, some of it from a public employee pension fund, and built a state of the art factory. They attended trade shows, did advertising, set up a dealer network, designed cool logos, built a fantastic motorcycle museum, and did everything except build motorcycles. By the time they started to ramp up manufacturing, they were out of money, and were unable to raise more funding in a world that had gone Internet crazy. The dream ended with investors holding the bag, and the city of Belle Plaine wondering what to do with the empty factory building.
The photo above is looking north along the upriver east face of the MN-25 bridge.