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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
US-71 Bridge (Backchannel)
Minnesota River Highway Crossing
Morton, MN

US-71 Bridge (Backchannel)

• Structure ID: NBI: 64009.
• Location: River Mile 203.5.
• River Elevation: 815 Feet.
• Highway: US-71, MN-19.
• Daily Traffic Count: 6,500 (2004).
• Bridge Type: Steel Girder, Concrete Deck.
• Length: 315 Feet.
• Width: 48 Feet, 2 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width.: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: ???.
• Date Built: 1997.
By the mid-1990s, the Jackpot Junction Casino had become a major enterprise, attracting gaming patrons from all over southern Minnesota as well as the Twin Cities. The roads near Morton were ill-suited to handle this increase in traffic. MN-DOT decided to fix the situation by rebuilding and widening US-71 past Morton, across the Minnesota River, and towards Redwood Falls. Completed in 1997, this bypass resulted in two new Minnesota River bridges, and the removal of one of the old river bridges.

This new bridge is a bit unusual in that MN-DOT typically builds this size structure using prestressed concrete girders rather than steel. It is a pleasant change from all the concrete girder bridges that have been built across the Minnesota River in the past 20 years. The bridge does feature the new style guard rails with the slanted sides.

There are two bridges that are part of this river crossing. This bridge crosses a backchannel known as Sulphur Lake. The main channel crossing is about one-half mile to the north.

The photo above is looking east towards the upstream west face of the US-71 bridge over Sulphur Lake. The Sulphur Lake Railroad Bridge is visible under the highway bridge. The photo below is the downstream east face of the US-71 structure.

US-71 Bridge (Backchannel)
US-71 Bridge (Backchannel)
The photo above is looking southbound down the length of the bridge deck. The old truss bridge still stands just to the west of the new bridge. The photo below is a view crossing the bridge heading northbound on US-71.

US-71 Bridge (Backchannel)

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