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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Petersen Bridge
Minnesota River Highway Crossing
Franklin, MN

Petersen Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 2110.
• Location: River Mile 186.6.
• River Elevation: 800 Feet.
• Highway: Renville Co 3, Brown Co 8.
• Daily Traffic Count: 60 (2001).
• Bridge Type: Steel Pony Truss.
• Length: 250 Feet, 81 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 17 Feet, 1 Lane.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: ???.
• Date Built: 1918.
The National Bridge Inventory rates the Petersen Bridge as being obsolete and intolerable to be left in place. This author sees the bridge in a little different light. I rate the bridge as being magnificent. Each of the 60 cars per day that crosses this bridge probably feels the same way.

This pony style truss bridge is one of the few remaining truss bridges left on the lower section of the Minnesota River, and one of the few bridges on the river that is served by a gravel road. Given that the road does not carry enough traffic to warrant being paved, it is likely that the bridge does not have enough traffic to justify being replaced. As a result, if this bridge does become unsafe, it is possible that this river crossing would simply be closed off.

The exciting part of a truss bridge is that all the working parts are right out in the open for people to look at. It is just like a steam railroad locomotive where all the mechanics are located on the outside of the engine, and you can watch the parts move when the train moves. Compare that to a rocket or a fighter jet where you cannot see any of the stuff that makes the vehicle fly on the outside. It takes all the excitement away. There are so few bridges like this left in Minnesota that we need to draw the line somewhere and fight to keep this one, otherwise, we risk losing all of the truss bridges for good.

The photo above is a view looking south down the bridge deck towards Brown County from the center of Renville County highway 3. The photo below is looking north down the bridge deck towards Renville County from the center of Brown County highway 8. The north end of the structure has a short sloping steel girder span leading to the main truss spans.

Petersen Bridge
Petersen Bridge
These two photos are views from the northwest corner of the structure from a vantage point along the north bank of the Minnesota River. The photo above is a little wider angle shot that shows the mid-span pier. The photo below is a slightly narrower angle that shows more detail of the steel girder span on the north end of the bridge.

Petersen Bridge
Petersen Bridge
These two photos are views from the southwest corner of the structure. The photo above is looking northeast across the bridge deck. The photo below is a view looking down the upstream west face of the truss spans.

Petersen Bridge
Petersen Bridge
These two photos are views of the approach road looking southbound during the flood of 2010. The photo above is an overview of the scene, while the photo below is a close view of a small bridge over a drainage ditch. The river bridge is just beyond the curve in the road.

Petersen Bridge

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