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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
MN-4 Bridge
MN-4 Minnesota River Highway Crossing
Fairfax, MN

MN-4 Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 08003.
• Location: River Mile 177.6.
• River Elevation: 791 Feet.
• Highway: MN-4.
• Daily Traffic Count: 1,500 (2004).
• Bridge Type: Prestressed Concrete Girder, Concrete Deck.
• Length: 496 Feet.
• Width: 39 Feet, 2 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: ???.
• Date Built: 1994.
The MN-4 bridge is located in a very rural setting. There are no towns close to the bridge. Fairfax is 8 miles to the north, while Sleepy Eye is 11 miles to the south. The bridge itself is a very modern prestressed concrete girder bridge typical of the newer bridges that you find on the Minnesota River. This style of bridge features wide shoulders and the modern type of guardrail with a sloping face and solid construction. The sloping face helps deflect some of the impact of an out-of-control automobile while the solid construction helps keep some of the road debris out of the river.

The city of Sleepy Eye has a connection to the Peanuts cartoon strip. Peanuts was drawn by Saint Paul native Charles Schulz. Schulz studied at the Minneapolis School of Art. One of his instructors was Linus Maurer, who was born and raised in Sleepy Eye. To honor his friend and teacher, Schulz added the Linus character to the Peanuts cartoon strip. The city of Sleepy Eye displays a statue of Linus in front of the city library.

This bridge replaced bridge #4800. Bridge #4800 was built in the period from late 1930 to the middle of 1931. It was considered to be an important bridge for the regional economy. Traffic through the area was increasing, and the existing route was 4 miles longer, contained two steep hills, and included 33 sharp turns. The bridge had two large Parker style through truss spans flanked by two smaller Warren style pony truss spans. The bridge was 419.3 feet long with the longest span being 141.6 feet. The bridge was 24 feet wide. The state considered this bridge to be representative of the larger bridges on the Minnesota state trunk highway system due to its size, cost, location over a major river, and traffic load. Plans were put in place in 1990 to replace this bridge. It was removed in 1994 to make way for the current bridge.

Bridge #4800 replaced an earlier bridge that was low and subject to frequent flooding. That bridge was located one-half mile upstream from the current location. That bridge appears on historical plat maps from 1905 and 1915, but I have not yet found dates for the construction or removal of that bridge.

The photo above is looking north towards Nicollet County from the center of MN-4 on the Brown County side of the Minnesota River.

MN-4 Bridge
The photo above is looking north across the river along the upriver west face of the MN-4 bridge from the southwest corner of the structure. The photo below is looking west towards the downriver east face of the MN-4 bridge from a boat landing located on the north side of the Minnesota River.

MN-4 Bridge
MN-4 Bridge
The photo above is the bridge plate. The photo below is looking north down the length of the bridge deck in March, 2010, during a period of very high water.

MN-4 Bridge
MN-4 Bridge
These two photos are views from the flood of 2010. The photo above is the upriver west face of the structure. Compare the water levels to the photos above. The photo below is a view on the downriver east side of the bridge. The water has totally flooded the boat landing that was mentioned above.

MN-4 Bridge

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