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.

Upcoming projects

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Fremont Avenue Bridge over the greenway is scheduled to be replaced in Spring 2019.

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Project information

Fremont Avenue Bridge

Construction activities on the Fremont Avenue Bridge over the Midtown Greenway is expected to begin in Spring 2019.

The purpose of this project is to:

  • Provide a structurally adequate crossing (capable of carrying legal loads) of the Midtown Corridor on Fremont Avenue for people driving, walking, biking and rolling.
  • Improve safety for people walking, biking and rolling on the Midtown Greenway.
  • Accommodate possible future transit improvements alongside facilities for people walking, biking, and rolling.

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.

Preliminary project renderings (PDF)

Preliminary project layout (PDF)

Closures

Fremont Avenue Bridge

The Fremont Avenue Bridge is closed to vehicular traffic.

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 face Portland 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 Cedar Avenue Bridge deck

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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