From the traffic deck, the I-694 bridge appears to be a single wide
urban interstate highway bridge. As it turns out, both MN-DOT and the
NBI treat the structure as two parallel spans, one eastbound and the other
westbound. This is a result of the history of the area, which is far
more interesting than what these two typical steel girder bridges might
MN-DOT attempted to build a ring route highway around the Twin Cities
metro area. For about 20 years, highway MN-100 actually did form a
complete circle around Minneapolis and Saint Paul. As part of the building
of MN-100, the first span at this location was built in 1945. That
bridge was rebuilt and widened in 1962.
When I-694 was built, the MN-100 designation was trimmed back to its
current location near the Earl Brown Center and Brookdale Mall. The
MN-100 bridge was used for the eastbound lanes, and a new span was
built in 1963 for the westbound spans. I-694 was widened in several
phases between MN-100 and I-35W in the 1980s. As part of this project,
the 1963 westbound span was rebuilt wider. Once that project was complete,
all traffic was temporarily routed over the rebuilt westbound bridge to
enable the 1945 eastbound span to be removed and replaced.
These various projects have resulted in an unusual arrangement of piers
under the bridge. The original MN-100 bridge was located where the wide
set of pier are now positioned. That bridge was removed and replaced by
this new eastbound span. The original 1945 MN-100 span was the same width
as the 1963 westbound span, which is the middle set of piers. When the
westbound span was rebuilt wider in 1988, the set of small piers were
built to carry the additional lanes. As a result, we have two spans with
three sets of piers, with each set of piers being a different width.
The photo above was taken from River Ridge Park on the southeast corner
of the bridges. This view shows the different sized piers. The photo
below was taken from under the east side of the westbound span.
The photo above is a view from the water level as seen from the boat
landing located just south of the I-694 bridge. This boat landing can
be reached from an access road located at the 57th Avenue N overpass
The photo below is the first of 3 photos showing a typical river crossing
heading westbound. The first photo is heading towards the bridge in the
center lane of westbound I-694.
The photo above is the second of three photos showing a Mississippi River
crossing via the I-694 bridge. We continue westbound, and are about halfway
across the bridge. Overhead signs inform drivers of a number of options
coming up just past the end of the bridge. The photo below is the very
end of the westbound river crossing. We notice that there is an exit
ramp on the right that starts before the bridge ends. This is the ramp
to northbound MN-252, which carries traffic up to the MN-610 freeway.
These two photos are a view from a bright sunny warm day in November of
2008. The upper photo was taken from the fishing pier at the North
Mississippi Regional Park. The photo above is a profile shot, while
the photo below is a close view of the main channel.
The photo above is the west bridge abutment. A regional trail crosses
under the bridge at this location. The photo below is a detail of the
metalwork under the bridge showing how the two spans are tied together.
These two photos were taken from river level on the downriver side of the
west end of the bridge. This area is accessible from the North Mississippi
Park, which is situated between I-94 and the Mississippi River on the north
side of Minneapolis. In the photo above, notice that the steel girder
supporting the westernmost span is much thinner than the girders on the
remaining spans. This detail is not duplicated on the east end of the