While the official name of the bridge is the Intercity Bridge, it is often called the Ford Parkway Bridge and less commonly the 46th Street Bridge due to those being the two streets connected by the structure. The bridge plate calls the bridge the Mississippi River Bridge.
The Intercity Bridge crosses the mighty Mississippi River at its widest and deepest point in the twin cities. That is due to the bridge being located just upstream from Lock & Dam #1, also known as the Ford Dam. The bridge uses 3 huge 300-foot long reinforced concrete arches to cross the river, and two more 139 foot arches to reach the abutments on the river bluffs. The resulting bridge is one of the largest reinforced concrete bridges ever built. The bridge was built during the art deco era, which can be seen in the lines and curves molded into the concrete.
Building the bridge was a massive project. To supply the concrete needed for the project, a large concrete plant was built on the west side of the river. A 1,900-foot long cableway was built to move materials and concrete to specific job sites. The cableway was supported by timber towers that were 135-feet tall. These towers could be moved so concrete delivered by the cableway could be dropped at specific locations.
By the early 1970s, the bridge had deteriorated enough to require major refurbishment. The deck was removed, and many of the ribs were replaced. All the ribs were made wider, and a new wider deck was installed on the bridge. The result was a modern 4 lane bridge with sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. This work was completed in 1973. A second major project in the years 2002 to 2004 again replaced the deck, and made repairs to the ribs and arches. This time, the deck was made wide enough to accommodate narrow shoulders, and provided a curb and guardrail between the traffic lanes and the sidewalks. New decorative lighting and retro-style railings were added to the bridge as part of the upgrade.
While the bridge did get off to a slow start, today, it is key link in the Twin Cities transportation network. The design of the bridge was considered important enough for the bridge to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
The photo at the top of the page is an attempt to capture as much of the bridge as possible in one photo. The vantage point is the parking lot at the visitors center at Lock & Dam #1.