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 Avenue 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. Crews will return in early 2018 to complete final construction tasks.

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Project updates

Portland and Cedar avenue bridges

Construction resumes on Portland and Cedar avenue bridges Monday, March 26

Starting Monday, March 26, crews will resume construction activities on the Portland Avenue (County Road 35) and Cedar Avenue (County Road 152) bridges over the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. Crews will be working to complete reconstruction of both bridges, which began in 2017.

Over the coming months, crews will be:

  • Installing permanent curbs, sidewalks and striping
  • Paving the final layer of pavement on the bridge and segments of the Midtown Greenway
  • Finishing decorative rail installations in certain locations
  • Installing lights underneath both bridges for Midtown Greenway trail users
  • Painting and finishing concrete
  • Planting and landscaping

These final tasks should not require major long-term closures of either roadway or the Midtown Greenway Trail. However, users of the bridges and trail should expect some short-term closures and impacts at times. Temporary detours will be clearly marked.

Weather permitting, work on both bridges is expected to be completed by late spring or early summer.

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

The Fremont Avenue Bridge is closed to vehicular traffic.

Both the Portland and Cedar Avenue bridges over the Midtown Greenway are reopen to traffic. The Midtown Greenway also remains open and has been returned to it's permanent alignment. Crews will return in the spring to complete final work. Spring 2018 construction activities may require short-term full closures, temporary lane reductions and other minor impacts.

Portland Avenue bridge detours

Trail

  • Park Avenue (existing bike lane for southbound, temporary contraflow bike lane for northbound)
  • East 28th Street (temporary two-way protected bike lane on south side of street)
  • 5th Avenue South (shared roadway use)

Road (motor vehicles)

  • Franklin Avenue (County Road 5)
  • Chicago Avenue South
  • Lake Street (County Road 3)

Road (bikes)

  • East 28th Street
  • 4th Avenue South
  • East 32nd Street

Portland detour graphics (PDF)

Cedar Avenue bridge detours

Trail

  • 18th Avenue South (shared roadway use)
  • East 28th Street (temporary two-way protected bike lane on south side of street)

Road

  • Lake Street (County Road 3)
  • Hiawatha Avenue (Highway 55)

Cedar detour graphics (PDF)

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 Avenue bridges

Hennepin County is nearing completion of the Portland and Cedar avenue bridges over the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. In 2017, crews completed a majority of the reconstruction work 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 Avenue 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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