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 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 project

Fremont Avenue Bridge over the Midtown Greenway

The Fremont Avenue Bridge replacement project began summer 2019. The project is expected to be complete in summer 2020. 

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Closures, impacts and access

Construction impacts in the area

Project leaders are working to minimize construction impacts to the Greenway and in the area as much as possible.

Work on the bridge, the Greenway and adjacent side streets will require coordination among the county, city and utilities, and will take two construction seasons to complete. Crews will be on-site starting August 2019 and will work until winter. Crews will return in spring 2020 and complete construction activities in summer 2020.

Fremont Avenue Bridge closed to all users

The bridge is closed for construction activities. People will continue to have access to Girard and Emerson avenues for crossing over the Greenway.

Midtown Greenway closed at Fremont; use temporary reroute

The Midtown Greenway at Fremont closed on August 28 and is anticipated to last approximately 10 weeks. A short reroute of the Greenway is available to get around the construction activities.

The temporary reroute uses:

  • Girard Avenue
  • 28th Street
  • Bryant Avenue

Midtown Greenway reroute map using Girard Avenue, 28th Street and Bryant Avenue

Temporary reroute map for Midtown Greenway users

Closures on 29th Street and Fremont Avenue

Two nearby roads are also impacted: 29th Street between Fremont and Emerson avenues is closed; and Fremont Avenue immediately north and south of the bridge will close intermittently.

Be aware that this will affect MetroTransit bus routes, delivery routes to businesses and street parking for residents and nearby businesses.

Fremont Avenue Bridge project information

Improvements to the Fremont Avenue Bridge include:

  • New bridge deck and foundation
  • Reduced pedestrian crossing distance at the bridge and 29th Street
  • Wider concrete sidewalks along both sides of the bridge
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant pedestrian ramps at the bridge approaches

Other improvements in the area include:

  • New pavement and lighting underneath the bridge for Midtown Greenway users
  • Adaptable design to accommodate possible future upgrades in the Midtown Corridor
  • Updated underground city watermain

Public involvement

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Planning and early design open house

Hennepin County held a public open house for the planned Fremont Avenue Bridge project, on February 28, 2018 at the Hennepin County Walker Library 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.

Completed projects

Portland and Cedar avenues bridges

In June 2018, reconstruction of the Portland and Cedar avenue bridges over the Midtown Greenway was completed.

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

Portland Avenue improvements

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

Portland Avenue Bridge facePortland Avenue Bridge deck

Cedar Avenue improvements

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

Cedar Avenue Bridge face

Greenway trail improvements

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

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.

Path to the Midtown Greenway: Revival of a community asset

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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