From street level, this bridge is hardly noticeable as a river crossing.
It is just another small bump in the road as one travels from one side
of Grand Rapids to the other side. It is amazing at how wrong that
first impression can be. What we really have here is a fantastic
example of the 1930s era concrete arch bridge. While this bridge does
not have the art deco features of a bridge like the MN-210 river bridge
in Brainerd, it is nevertheless nice to see a unique bridge from that
era stills surviving today.
The bridge started life as a 2 lane bridge. The bridge was torn down
to its arches and rebuilt as a four lane bridge in 1977. That does
make the bridge look a little awkward given that the new deck is so
much wider than the arches. The basic structure of the bridge was
built so strong that it is easily able to carry this greatly expanded
bridge deck and traffic load.
The City of Brainerd appears to be hiding their 1930s gem of a bridge.
That is not the case here in Grand Rapids. The paper mill and the
Blandin Foundation have set up walkways, overlooks, and paths along the
river to allow visitors to get up close to the mighty Mississippi.
The photo above is the sign for the park located near the Blandin
Foundation headquarters. The photo below is a view looking north
down the length of the bridge deck. The photo above is a view from
the observation deck on the northwest corner of the structure located
in front of the paper mill office building. Note that the water level
on this spring day is much higher than in the summer photos below.
The photo above is the bridge deck looking to the south. The photo below
is the bridge plate.
The photo above is a profile view of the bridge as seen from the south river
bank located upriver near the Blandin Dam. The photo below is a profile
view of the bridge as seen from the park along the north river bank just
downriver from the structure.