The eponymous bridge: one year later

After my last post (the one with the blinking red adverbs), this week’s words might look a little plain. Black, no red anywhere.

For me, however, this post sings and shouts in another way: it’s the one-year anniversary of my blog. Time for an update on the bridge that inspired this blog, and time to speculate about its future.

In my first post, I mentioned that my favorite bridge was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, I have picked the brains of some very smart historians — Susan Roth, Denis Gardner, and John Smoley — to see whether I should nominate it.

For now, I’ve given up the idea because the bridge has no immediate threats — demolition, development or rapid deterioration.

Meanwhile, a fancy security camera was installed on the bridge. I didn’t notice it at first, but here it is, casting its 360 degree gaze.

I assumed it was there to record the identities of property vandals. Wrong. The city and the federal government got together and installed the camera as part of a larger project to increase security on the Minneapolis riverfront.

Bridge 9, an out-of-the-way walking bridge was an area of concern, in part, because…it’s an out-of-the way walking bridge. It also happens to be just downstream from the Lower St. Anthony Falls lock and dam.

Security experts apparently felt that terrorists could walk across the bridge in relative privacy to commit their mayhem.

This may be true. I’m not a security expert. But I do find it odd that I abandoned an effort to protect the bridge because I felt that it faced no immediate threat, and now, it turns out, Homeland Security thinks the bridge itself poses something of a threat.

Well. In honor of this ironic quirk, the security camera and I had a stare-down the other day.

I suspect the security camera won.

So much for 2011. What about the future? Repairs to a deteriorating pier,

MnDOT inspection photo

are on the city’s public works wish list for 2014. But in its five-year plan, the city ranks this project near the bottom, just above the “alley renovation program.” Yikes. The pier repairs might not happen for a while.

In my first post, I expressed the hope that someone would paint the bridge a more dignified color than pink. That project isn’t on the books yet. Some people, however, have suggested painting the sign on the downstream side.

View is from downstream on the west bank

I like that idea, but I’m not sure how many folks would rise up and demand it.

Going out on a limb here, my predictions for Bridge 9 in 2012:

  • The security camera probably won’t record anything too dramatic;
  • Bicycle traffic will increase when the U of M Bikeway opens in the spring;
  • The pink railings and the North Coast Limited sign will continue to fade.

Considering all the times I’ve declared that the world is going to hell, these predictions of relative calm seem downright good.

Thanks to John Smoley, Ole Mersinger and Tracy Downing, all of the city of Minneapolis, for taking the time to answer questions.



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