Restoring downtown bridge access not an easy process

Two pedestrian bridges that provided a shortcut across the river and railroad tracks to downtown Minot face a questionable future, and that troubles some northeast Minot residents.

“It’s very important to us in northeast Minot to be able to get uptown,” said resident Gladys Garrison. Several years ago, the city closed the historic Anne’s Street Bridge for safety reasons. Garrison said she walked a petition through her neighborhood and collected more than 460 signatures to re-open the bridge.

The city plans to repair the Anne Street Bridge. But the structure will not re-open.

Stephanie Harman, city traffic engineer, said the city has funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fix the bridge, but not to make improvements so it meets federal standards as an urban pedestrian bridge. The city hopes that by at least keeping it in place, there’s an opportunity to make the improvements later if funding can be found.

The city also plans in July to remove the Victory bridge, a pedestrian bridge located just west of the Anne Street Bridge. An evaluation will be done to determine whether repair is feasible. The Victory Pedestrian Bridge was erected in 2004 as a pre-assembled structure anchored to a substructure built on site.

Harman said the city may decide to re-open just one of the two bridges since they are in close proximity. The decision on which bridge to invest in will depend on results of the evaluation of the Victory bridge.

The engineering department indicates that it might be more cost effective to build a new bridge than to bring the aged Anne Street Bridge up to standards. Built sometime between 1900 and 1915, the bridge entered the National Register of Historic Places in October 1986, along with other portions of Minot’s downtown industrial district.

The 15-foot by 940-foot bridge is described architecturally as a Warren through-truss footbridge. The portals for the truss are about eight feet high. The main span crosses the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The northern approach spans the Souris River.

Bob Miller, a city council member representing that area, said he would support efforts to re-open the bridge if possible because of the revitalization proposed for downtown. He expects downtown development to heighten demand for a footbridge.

“I just want to know where we are at what the costs are. I really think at this point, the city of Minot should have access to downtown for northeast Minot by a pedestrian means,” he said.

Pedestrians also have access to the downtown using the foot paths on the Third Street or Broadway bridges, although the Broadway path is in need of concrete repairs. The city is scheduled to do the repairs during the summers of 2014 and 2015. Pedestrian traffic on the bridge will be affected while that work is being done.