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Martin Sabo bike, pedestrian bridge closed after failure

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Sabo bike and pedestrian bridge closed
The Sabo bike and pedestrian bridge was closed on Presidents Day after a pair of cables on the bridge failed the night before.
MPR Photo/Matt Sepic

A pair of cable supports on the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge failed late Sunday, forcing Minneapolis city officials to close the span that carries bicycle riders and pedestrians over Hiawatha Avenue and the Hiawatha Light Rail line.

The city said in a statement that engineers were called to the 2,200 foot-long cable-stayed suspension bridge at about 10:20 p.m. on Sunday. There were no reports of injuries.

A cable support broke, and that caused a pair of cables to fail, said Minneapolis director of transportation maintenance and repair Mike Kennedy. Bridge inspectors then found damage to another cable support similar to the one that failed.

"The cables are the support members for the bridge. So it's important to have all of them with their full integrity and working properly," he said. "So when the first one came loose, there's still probably some redundancy but, after the second one we saw that was compromised, then it was time to start taking some action."

Work crews were at the scene Monday morning to begin repairs on the bridge, which opened in 2007 to link the Midtown Greenway trail to the Mississippi River. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed the portion of Hiawatha Avenue that runs under the bridge and rerouted traffic. The light rail line is open, but Metro Transit is using buses to ferry riders around the area and make connections on either side.

Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland says since early this morning, passengers are being placed on commuter buses that travel around the area. 

"Imagine you're going into downtown Minneapolis. You would take the train to 38th. You would transfer to a bus. Our staff are there to help make the transfer. You take the bus up to Franklin Ave. Station. And there you catch the train again," Siqveland said. 

Light rail commuter traffic is lighter today, since it is a holiday, Siqveland said. About 31,000 people ride the Hiawatha line on a typical work day.

Kennedy said the bridge was inspected last fall and nothing unusual was found. City officials hope to get traffic moving under the bridge in time for Tuesday morning's commute.