3rd Avenue Bridge reopens in October, Stone Arch Bridge repairs planned for next two summers

The Minneapolis skyline and Stone Arch Bridge
The Minneapolis skyline is illuminated behind the Stone Arch Bridge.
Jim Mone | Associated Press file

People won’t be able to walk or bike across the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis for the next two summers, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

As the historic bridge is preparing for repairs, the nearby Third Avenue Bridge will reopen in late October.

The Stone Arch Bridge will be closed to through traffic for two summers. MnDOT spokesperson Kevin Walker said rocks, stones and mortar will be replaced on the 140-year-old bridge.

“You’re not going to see the work on top of the deck itself. It needs work for repairing the bricks and mortar below, that kind of thing,” Walker said.

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Plans are to close one half of the bridge at a time for repairs, starting with the east half in April 2024, and the west half in 2025 until October. The bridge will reopen for winter 2024 until March 2025 when repairs will resume.

The public will still be able to get to the middle of the bridge, but won’t be able to fully cross it during the project.

The bridge last underwent repairs in the mid-1990s when it was converted from railroad to pedestrian and bicycle use.

A Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board planning committee approved access to MnDOT for the repairs on the bridge on Wednesday, and the full board is expected to review the request at a future meeting.

MnDOT estimates that the bridge repairs will cost around $22.2 million to $26 million. The department told MPR News in July that the Minnesota Legislature designated $5 million for the repair to help match federal funds already set aside.

Third Avenue Bridge is planned to reopen Oct. 28. The bridge repairs began in 2021, and were originally planned to be completed in 2022.

“That bridge is over 105 years old, so just like renovating a 100 year old home,” Walker said, “there’s always something you find that takes longer. We just appreciate the community, obviously the business associations, for just bearing with us until we open the bridge.”

Walker said a community celebration is in the works, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with events for families and a potential historical tour of the bridge.