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Old Cedar Avenue Bridge 1977The old Cedar Avenue Bridge in 1977 has been retained for biking and walking.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge circa 1978Construction of the "new" Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1980Another view of the Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1980The "new" Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge undatedAn early photo of the Cedar Avenue Bridge connecting Eagan/Burnsville with Bloomington area through Nicols.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1980Another view of the Cedar Avenue bridge.
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Old Cedar Bridge replacementPortions of the Cedar Avenue Bridge are removed for the new bridge.

The original Old Cedar Avenue Bridge was built in 1890. The bridge that stands now was built in 1920 and carried automobile traffic into the 1990s. The narrow span continued operation as a bicycle trail until 2002 when it was deemed too unsafe. In 2008, $2 million in state funding was approved to reopen the bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians. Back when the old structure was the main crossing, heavy traffic delays would occur because of the bridge's small size and the need to operate the swing segment to let boat traffic pass. The modern bridge has three lanes in each direction, in addition to a shoulder which is often used by buses to get past traffic slowdowns.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1935An early photo of the Cedar Avenue Bridge in Eagan.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1980A Dakota County Tribune newspaper clipping shows a photo of the progress of the new Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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A bridge to Dakota County 2009January 21, 2009 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: Longtime residents remember the nostalgia associated with the old Cedar Avenue Bridge...
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A new way to get to the other side 2008August 20, 2008 Pioneer Press reports:
The 2002 closure of the old Cedar Avenue Bridge eliminated a vital nonvehicular crossing over the Minnesota River and restricted access to a scenic wildlife refuge. But with the help from the state and other sources, a new span could open by 2010...
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Cedar Avenue Bridge Another view of the Cedar Avenue Bridge in the 1990s.
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Bike pedestrian bridge to link Bloomington to Dakota County 2013The Burnsville Sun/ThisWeek News - September 19, 2013 reports on plans to rehabilitate the old Cedar Avenue Bridge for a pedestrian/bike bridge.
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The old Cedar Avenue BridgeThe Josiah Snelling slides past the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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New Cedar Avenue Bridge to open Thursday 1980October 28, 1980 Burnsville Sun reports:
The new Cedar Avenue Bridge, under construction for the past four years will be open to traffic Thursday afternoon...
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Cedar Avenue Bridge in FogThe original Old Cedar Avenue Bridge was built in 1890. The bridge that stands now was built in 1920 and carried automobile traffic into the 1990s.[1] The narrow span continued operation as a bicycle trail until 2002 when it was deemed too unsafe. In 2008, $2 million in state funding was approved to reopen the bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1891Dakota County Tribune September 17, 1891:

Last week we made a trip to Minneapolis via the new Cedar Avenue bridge. We found the bridge itself to be a substantially built structure, which ought to last long enough to be worth the money it cost. The approaches are still unsettled and soft in places, the sand and gravel being yet loose, but in time and with use they will improve.

Beyond the river there is a long stretch of new road, where the soil is sandy and loose, and it will take some time to make a good road there for heavy loads. The road does not yet run directly to the city from the bridge, but we were told that another street was to be opened soon, which would make the route direct. For anyone going to Minneapolis from any point west of Farmington, the new route cuts a good many miles off the trip.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 2017The Cedar Avenue Bridge carries Minnesota State Highway 77 across the Minnesota River between the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs of Bloomington and Eagan, Minnesota. The two parallel crossings for northbound and southbound lanes are respectively 5,159 feet (1,572 m) and 5,185 feet (1,580 m) in length. It was built in 1979, superseding an older swing bridge by the same name that was composed of low-lying truss segments.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 2017The Cedar Avenue Bridge carries Minnesota State Highway 77 across the Minnesota River between the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs of Bloomington and Eagan, Minnesota. The two parallel crossings for northbound and southbound lanes are respectively 5,159 feet (1,572 m) and 5,185 feet (1,580 m) in length. It was built in 1979, superseding an older swing bridge by the same name that was composed of low-lying truss segments.
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Restored Old Cedar Avenue Bridge 2017The original Cedar Avenue Bridge serves as a path for walkers and bikers. Photo by Lisa Stefani.

The original Old Cedar Avenue Bridge was built in 1890. The bridge that stands now was built in 1920 and carried automobile traffic into the 1990s. The narrow span continued operation as a bicycle trail until 2002 when it was deemed too unsafe. In 2008, $2 million in state funding was approved to reopen the bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 2017A view of the two bridges from the Jens Caspersen landing.
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Old Cedar Avenue Bridge fixes mean more access for hikers, bikers. 2015The St. Paul Pioneer Press - April 11, 2015 reports:

Work is expected to start in May on the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge, which crosses Long Meadow Lake in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington. The pedestrian bridge, seen here Wednesday, April 8, 2015, was closed in 2002 and is expected to reopen in the fall of 2016. (Pioneer Press: Andy Rathbun)

The Old Cedar Avenue Bridge in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is set for an update that will allow it to reopen after being closed for 14 years.

Work to fix the structural issues that forced the bridge’s closure is expected to start in May. When the project is complete, the bridge will offer walkers, runners and cyclists a way to cross Long Meadow Lake and connect to more trails.

“That is a tremendous point of entry for the refuge,” said refuge manager Tim Bodeen. In conjunction with the bridge project, the refuge is making its own improvements to the area, which Bodeen said would serve as a “stepping stone of engagement for urban audiences to come and interact with the refuge.”

The bridge work, which is expected to be finished in fall 2016, will allow pedestrians to travel between trails on either side of the Minnesota River, connecting Fort Snelling State Park, for instance, with the refuge’s trails that stretch to the west along the river.

It will also open up opportunities for bird watchers and commuting cyclists and will allow for more educational programs by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, said Shelly Pederson, city engineer for Bloomington.

When the truss bridge opened in 1920, it served vehicle traffic. It was restricted to pedestrians in 1993 because of structural issues and was closed to all traffic in 2002, following an engineering study.

“The substructure of the bridge deteriorated to a condition where the beams were no longer completely safe for traffic or pedestrians to cross the bridge,” said Julie Long, senior civil engineer for the city of Bloomington.
Much of the work will be focused on repairing that substructure. The bridge will also get a new deck, which was originally concrete, but was replaced with wood.

“We’ll be replacing it with lightweight concrete to replicate the historic element from 1920,” Long said.

The truss is in good condition and will remain largely as is.

The estimated cost of the bridge project is $19.8 million, and trailhead and connecting trail work is estimated at $2.8 million. About $13.6 million is state funding, $7 million is local funding, and $2 million comes from the federal government.

The project has the city of Bloomington teaming with the fish and wildlife service, which manages the refuge and is clearing brush and trees near the parking lot on the bridge’s north end.

“When you have those closed-in parking lots with a lot of brush and cover, people are always concerned about safety issues,” Bodeen said.

The agency has been cutting down invasive species like buckthorn and Siberian elm that have taken root in the refuge but leaving oaks, ashes, hackberries and cottonwoods to maintain the area for wildlife.

Once the bridge project is finished, the agency will rehabilitate the refuge’s parking lot — work that might be completed by end of 2016, Bodeen said. It also will rebuild a boardwalk and platform that extends about 700 feet over Long Meadow Lake.

The refuge is also exploring adding fishing opportunities, creating a play area for kids and installing restrooms or a water source.
The fish and wildlife service is working to stay relevant in times of less outdoor recreation and changing demographics and is exploring how it can “preserve the spirit of conservation for future generations,” Bodeen said.

One way to do that, he said, is to “create a really nice place for those folks to come down to and engage in outdoor activities.”

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Old Cedar Avenue Bridge fans plan rally for missing link 2012September 20, 2012 Minneapolis Star Tribune features the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge and efforts to bring it back to life.

Supporters want to drum up enthusiasm - and cash - to renovate the Old Cedar Avenue bridge, which can't be torn down because of its historic designation. It's a "great recreational resource."

By MARY JANE SMETANKA Star Tribune - September 20, 2012 — 7:35pm

The Old Cedar Avenue bridge in Bloomington juts out into the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The steel structure was closed to vehicle traffic in 1993 and to pedestrians and bicycles in 2002. The city has been an unwilling owner since 1981.

Frustrated that Bloomington's Old Cedar Avenue bridge has languished for years, a state legislator from the city is moving to jumpstart the bridge's reuse as a recreation trail link.

At the invitation of Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, Gov. Mark Dayton will visit the bridge on Saturday during an informal rally at 11 a.m.
"I want the governor to see this up close and personal," Lenczewski said.

Lenczewski, who secured bonding money for the bridge in the past, intends to seek additional state funding next year.

"I, along with hundreds and thousands of residents, are committed to having this great recreational resource move forward," she said.

Bikers and hikers see the decaying 1920 steel bridge as a crucial link between the growing number of trails in Hennepin and Dakota counties. The bridge closed to vehicle traffic in 1993 and to pedestrians and bicyclists in 2002.

Rehabilitation of the bridge would cost $5.5 million to $10 million, depending on how much work is done.

Five years ago, Gov. Tim Pawlenty attended a similar rally for the rusting span over Long Meadow Lake in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

But Bloomington, which has been the bridge's unwilling owner since the state gave it to the city in 1981, has been unwavering in its resolve not to renovate the bridge until a new owner is found.

Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead will be at Saturday's event.

"I think we want to see something get done," he said. "We would like to see someone else take it on, but candidly, I'm coming to the realization that it might not happen. So, we have to think how we can come together."

Time to 'move forward'

Several years ago, Bloomington was planning to replace the bridge. But the structure has historic status, and state and federal rules require that it be renovated. The city has balked, partly because of concerns about maintenance.

Rehabilitation would cost $5.5 million to $10 million, depending on how much work is done. The city already has collected about $5.3 million for the job from various sources, including the state and federal governments.

The city and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which runs the Minnesota Valley refuge, have discussed the possibility of federal ownership of the bridge. The city also would give the refuge about 1,000 acres of city land along the river.

But discussions are preliminary, the outcome uncertain, and negotiations could take years.

Lenczewski doesn't want to wait that long. She said she will propose legislation next session to fill any funding gap for bridge work.

"We have to try to accept the reality of the situation and move forward," she said.

David Gepner, chairman of the Hennepin County Bicycle Advisory Committee, will be at the event as a bridge supporter.

"From my standpoint, this has gone on too long," he said. "It's a vital link for bicyclists to get from Dakota County to Hennepin County. There's a lot of good riding south of the river, and I feel isolated not getting there."
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Cedar Avenue Bridge 1951Photo dated 1951 shows the "old" Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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Cedar Avenue and bike bridge 2017The area surrounding the Cedar Avenue Bridges was extended to include a concrete path over the land and river to enable bikers to follow the trail.
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Cedar Avenue Bridge gets priority 1971Efforts are underway to replace the "Old Cedar Avenue Bridge" which connects Eagan and Burnsville to Bloomington.
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The Cedar Avenue BridgeThe September 1991 issue of OVER THE YEARS, published by the Dakota County Historical Society, featured the history of Dakota County Bridges, including the Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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The new Cedar Avenue BridgeGrand opening of the new Cedar Avenue Bridge

Cedar Avenue Freeway, after 90 years the OLD gives way to the New - October 30, 1980.
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Cedar Avenue BridgeEagan Cedar Avenue Swing Bridge Drawing - (year unknown).
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Cedar Avenue BridgeThe Old Cedar Avenue Bridge 1965, compliments of Mark Champine.
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