Greenway bridges

There are 26 historic bridges along the Midtown Greenway originally built between 1912 and 1916. Because of their age and varying conditions, many of these historic bridges will need some form of repair or replacement in the coming years.

Hennepin County is working with a wide variety of partners, including state historical offices and other agencies, to maintain service and safety of the greenway bridges, while honoring the historic character of the corridor.

Current projects

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Starting in 2018, Hennepin County is leading outreach and design efforts for the Fremont Avenue Bridge project, which is expected to occur in 2019.

Portland and Cedar avenues bridges

In 2017, Hennepin County completed major reconstruction activities on both the Portland Avenue (County Road 35) and Cedar Avenue (County Road 152) bridges over the greenway. Reconstruction of both bridges were completed in summer 2018.

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Project updates

Portland and Cedar avenues bridges

Reconstruction of Portland and Cedar avenues bridges is complete

Hennepin County has completed reconstruction of the Portland Avenue (County Road 35) and Cedar Avenue (County Road 152) bridges over the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis

Both of the century-old bridges were reconstructed to improve design, function and safety, while also maintaining their original architectural style to preserve the historic integrity of the corridor. Design features were also included to accommodate possible future transit service in the corridor.

Reconstruction began in spring 2017. And, crews returned in spring 2018 to complete final construction tasks.

The new Portland and Cedar avenues bridges provide several benefits for people using them to travel around the area.

Portland Avenue improvements

Portland Avenue Bridge face

Portland Avenue Bridge deck

For people driving:

  • Shifted traffic lanes from three ten-foot through lanes to two 13-foot through lanes*

For people walking, biking and rolling:

  • Widened the sidewalk on bridge deck from eight to ten feet
  • Added a three-foot buffer to the existing six-foot bike lane*

*MnDOT temporarily restriped Portland Avenue to accommodate a transit lane for express buses at peak hours during the 35W@94 project. New permanent configurations on the Portland Avenue bridge will be reinstalled when express buses can return to I-35W later this year. Visit MnDOT's project website to learn more.

Cedar Avenue improvements

Cedar Avenue Bridge face

Cedar Avenue Bridge deck

For people driving:

  • Changed traffic lanes from four ten-foot through lanes to two 11-foot through lanes and two 13-foot through lanes.

For people walking, running or rolling:

  • Widened sidewalk on bridge deck from eight to ten feet

Greenway trail improvements at both bridge sites

Bridge lighting

  • New lights underneath the bridges to improve visibility at night
  • Repaved trail segments underneath the bridges

We thank you for your patience and understanding throughout the reconstruction process. We hope you enjoy these new improvements for many years to come.

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Hennepin County held a public open house for the planned Fremont Avenue Bridge project, which is expected to begin in 2019, in Minneapolis.

Materials from the open house are attached below.

Preserving historic places

The Fremont Avenue Bridge, which was originally constructed in 1913, is a significant feature of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Grade Separation Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Because federal funds are being used for this project, it is being reviewed as part of compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires consideration for the impacts on historic properties.

Detours, closures and travel considerations

Fremont Avenue Bridge

The Fremont Avenue Bridge is closed to vehicular traffic.

Portland and Cedar avenues bridges 

Both bridges and trail are open to traffic

Both the Portland and Cedar Avenue bridges over the Midtown Greenway are open to traffic. Travel lanes for both vehicle and bicycle traffic on the bridge have been reconfigured as part of MnDOT's 35W@94 Downtown to Crosstown project.

The Midtown Greenway is open and has been returned to it's permanent alignment.

Project information

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Hennepin County is currently gathering information and planning for the Fremont Avenue Bridge project, expected to begin in 2019. Due to safety concerns related to the age and condition of the bridge, it was closed to motorized vehicle traffic in 2016. The project will aim to reopen the bridge to all traffic.

Portland and Cedar avenues bridges

Hennepin County is nearing completion of the Portland and Cedar avenue bridges over the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. In June 2018, crews completed reconstruction work of both bridges to address structural and safety issues due to their age.

Both of the century-old bridges are being reconstructed to improve design, function and safety, while also maintaining their original architectural styles to maintain the historic integrity of the corridor. Design features are also included to accommodate possible future transit service in the corridor.

Portland Avenue planned improvements

  • Widening sidewalk on bridge deck from eight to ten feet
  • Changing traffic lanes from three ten-foot through lanes to two 13-foot through lanes
  • Adding a three-foot buffer to the existing six-foot bike lane
  • Adding lights underneath the bridge for greenway trail users

Portland Avenue bridge cross section (PDF)

Cedar Avenue planned improvements

  • Widening sidewalk on bridge deck from eight to ten feet
  • Changing traffic lanes from four ten-foot through lanes to two 11-foot through lanes and two 13-foot through lanes
  • Adding lights underneath the bridge for greenway trail users

Cedar Ave bridge cross section (PDF)

Public involvement

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Previous events

Hennepin County and their project partners held an open house on February 28, 2018 at the Hennepin County Walker Library.

Please see details in the "project updates" section above for more information on open house materials and an online comments link.

Portland and Cedar avenues bridges

Past public engagement activities

  • Project staff presented plans for the Cedar and Portland bridge reconstructions at the Midtown Philips neighborhood meeting on March 28, 2017. The meeting was held at Abubakar As Saddique Islamic Center.
  • Community open house on Wednesday February 15, 2017 at the Midtown Greenway Coalition offices.
  • Project staff presented plans for the Cedar Avenue bridge reconstruction at the East Phillips Improvement Coalition neighborhood meeting on February 9, 2017. The meeting was held at East Philips Park Cultural and Community Center.
  • Project open house on August 24, 2016 at the Midtown Greenway Coalition offices  to present preliminary designs and gather public feedback.
  • A "pop-up" meeting held on the Greenway on August 31, 2016 to present preliminary designs and gather public feedback.

Open House and "pop-up" meeting presentation boards (PDF)

History of the Midtown Greenway Bridges

The Midtown Greenway is a 5.5-mile-long former railroad corridor in south Minneapolis with bicycling and walking trails. Along the Midtown Greenway, there are 26 historic bridges--all built between 1912 and 1916. These century-old bridges are part of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Grade Separation Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Historic District

The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Grade Separation Historic District is a 2.8-mile-long transportation district formed by a depressed railroad trench that follows a linear path from Humboldt Avenue South (on the west end) to Cedar Avenue, where it then curves northward to meet 28th Street East at its eastern terminus. The historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. 

In the late nineteenth century, south Minneapolis experienced rapid growth whereby development leapfrogged the at-grade railway. This created many at-grade street crossings of the rail line, greatly increasing conflicts between residents and trains. The city requested the railroad provide safe crossings by lowering their tracks and constructing a bridge structure at each crossing. The resulting set of bridges created a consistent transportation grid over the rail trench.

Midtown Corridor Historic Bridge Study

In 2007, the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County Public Works, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), and other partners conducted a study of the Midtown Greenway historic bridges bridges. The study included:

  • Structural and functional conditions of the bridges
  • Potential repair or rehabilitation limitations
  • Original construction methods
  • Potential recommendations for each bridge, timeline and cost
  • Foreseeable effects of additional bridge removals on the historic district

Midtown Corridor Historic Bridge study (PDF 8MB)

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