The 5-span Old Cedar Bridge crosses Long Meadow Lake.
Old Cedar Bridge and the
Minnesota River Valley State Trail
Frequently Asked Questions
City Council meeting,
At its September 9, 2013 meeting, the City Council approved the Project Memorandum (environmental review document for the project), with a full-scope rehabilitation as the selected alternative.
Once finalized, the Project Memorandum will be submitted to the FHWA, who will review it for completeness. If the FHWA approve the document's content, the Project Memorandum will be distributed to State and federal agencies for review and comment and a public hearing will be held to receive input on the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge project. It is anticipated that this hearing will be held in November or early December.
Who presently owns the Old Cedar Bridge?
The City of Bloomington is the current owner of the bridge. Ownership of the Old Cedar Bridge
was transferred to the City of Bloomington by the State of Minnesota, along with the Old Cedar
Avenue corridor, in 1981 shortly after the construction and opening of the TH 77 Bridge in
1980. The existing bridge is located in a narrow strip of public right-of-way, with the
remaining area surrounded by federal property. Prior to the demolition of the Cedar Avenue
swing bridge over the Minnesota River, the now Old Cedar Bridge was called the Long Meadow Lake
Bridge and both names are used today. .
When was the bridge closed?
The existing bridge was constructed in 1920, after demolition of the 1890's wood structure.
After independent bridge inspections in 1992 and 2002, the bridge was closed due to its poor
structural condition to vehicular traffic in 1993, and to all traffic, including pedestrians,
Will the existing bridge be replaced with a new bridge or
We do not know yet (July 2013)! The main function of this project is to provide a
pedestrian/bike link across Long Meadow Lake which is an important link needed to cross and
access the Minnesota River Valley. Based on previous studies, the least costly way to do
this is with a replacement bridge ($5M range). Some agencies have indicated that they
will push that the existing bridge be rehabilitated ($10M- $12M range). Currently, the City
is revisiting past cost estimates for each alternative and is preparing required federal
environmental documents. Once these documents have been completed, the City Council will
select a locally preferred alternative (rehabilitation or replacement) and submit the environmental
documentation for agency review. In choosing the "locally preferred
alternative", the Council will need to consider the main function of the bridge, relative
cost of each option as well as the cost/benefit of each. Some have suggested that the
extra cost to preserve the historical bridge is not cost effective.
Once the environmental documents have been submitted, review agencies will comment on various
aspects of the project – including impacts to historical structures. Based on these
comments, the FHWA will decide if they can approve the documents, including the locally
preferred alternative. If they do, the project can proceed as proposed. If not, the
City will have an opportunity to change the document, maybe even the locally preferred
alternative, so that it can be approved by the FHWA and the project can proceed.
In previous policy statements, the City Council has expressed a strong preference to replace
the bridge primarily due to high cost to rehabilitate. In the past, funding was only secured
for the replacement option. With recent legislation, adequate funds are available for
either option – replacement or rehabilitation. Even though adequate funding
exists for either option, the Council will need to decide which option they prefer and if the
extra cost to rehabilitate the existing bridge is an acceptable expenditure of public funds.
What is the cost comparison between replacement and
As part of the feasibility study completed in 2009 of various alternatives, cost estimates were
prepared for construction and anticipated maintenance costs over a 50-year design life. The
rehabilitation alternative is almost triple the cost of the replacement alternative due to
higher construction and maintenance costs over the 50-year design life of the structure.
Bloomington has spent substantial funds contracting with a nationally-recognized structural
engineering and design consulting firm to analyze the existing bridge. The results of a Bridge Condition Report and the Feasibility Study, which included a review of
a number of possible alternatives, recommended the existing bridge be demolished and replaced
with a new relatively-inexpensive, pre-fabricated, five-ton bridge.. The replacement bridge
would accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists connecting the south and north sides of Long
Meadow Lake, as well as providing access for light fire and emergency vehicles. Pedestrians and
bicyclists would then cross the Minnesota River via the existing pedestrian/bike access under
the TH 77 bridge.
A table summarizing the anticipated costs of the various alternatives considered can be found
As of July 2013, the City has contracted to complete updated cost estimates and to prepare
federal environmental review documents. These new reports are anticipated to be complete
in the fall of 2013.
What funding is available for this project?
Bloomington has made funding requests to numerous agencies, including other cities, the county
and the Federal government. A summary of the successful funding is shown on the link below.
New funding has been granted to the City of Bloomington, which is allowing City officials to find a solution about whether to rehabilitate or reconstruct the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge. Watch the video below to learn more.
New Funding to Aid in Old Cedar Bridge Project
What is the current City Council position?
The City Council position on the bridge was revised in early 2013. The following is part of the
City Council 2013 legislative policy:
The City of Bloomington supports the development of new regional non-motorized connections
across the Minnesota River Valley including the Long Meadow Lake/ Old Cedar Avenue Bridge as well
as other potential crossings such as at I-35W. The City's interest in such projects is
primarily for non-motorized access into and through the river valley and the City is willing to
participate in improvements that support these interests. The City of Bloomington sets forth the
following position regarding the Long Meadow Lake/Old Cedar Avenue Bridge:
- Bloomington supports additional pedestrian and bike crossings of the Minnesota
River Valley including one in the in the vicinity of the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge.
- Such crossings of the Minnesota River Valley are regional assets and are most
appropriately owned and operated by a State or Regional Agency. The City of Bloomington
supports transferring ownership of the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge to a State or Regional
- The City of Bloomington is willing to transfer ownership of the Old Cedar Avenue
Bridge to a new owner and will work cooperatively with the new owner to re-establish a
non-motorized connection at its location. Such cooperation includes using funds, as
allowed, assembled by Bloomington for this project.
- The City of Bloomington is only willing to develop and construct a
replacement/rehabilitation of the existing 1920s bridge under one of the following
- The City is willing to construct a replacement project that provides the
desired non-motorized access plus wildlife observation opportunities ($3.8M
construction cost) with the expectation that a new owner will identified and
ownership transferred within a short period of time
- The City is willing to construct a rehabilitation project ($10M construction
cost) if additional non-city funds are available to cover the higher
construction cost (including cost overruns encountered during rehabilitation)
associated with historic preservation and adequate funding is available to
cover the higher cost of maintenance anticipated with a rehabilitated structure.
The total life cycle cost of a rehabilitation project is approximately $8M more
than the life cycle cost of a bridge replacement project. Under this scenario,
a new regional owner of the rehabilitated bridge is desired.
- If no project is funded the City of Bloomington, as owner, will remove the Old
Cedar Avenue Bridge if and when it becomes a safety hazard.
During its 2013 session, the Minnesota legislation was passed that provides addition
funding for this project – enough to accomplish either a bridge replacement or a bridge
rehabilitation. It is anticipated that the City Council will consider changes to the above
policy in the fall of 2013 that responds to this new legislation.
Has the City Council held a public hearing on this bridge?
The City Council has not held public hearings for the Old Cedar Bridge since there is not a
well-defined project developed (or even in process) at this time, that could be presented for
public comment. If, in the future, when an acceptable solution is proposed, the City Council
may, depending on the scope of the proposed solution, hold a public hearing to gain input on
the proposed solution. The City Council has been kept informed by staff regarding the status of
the various components of the Old Cedar Bridge.
Would the Old Cedar Bridge provide access to the Minnesota River
Valley State Trail?
While the exact alignment of the Minnesota River Valley State Trial has not been set, it is
presumed that it would be located adjacent to the Minnesota River and south of Long Meadow
Lake. If this is the case, the Old Cedar Bridge would provide access across Long Meadow Lake to
the Minnesota River Valley State Trail. The Old Cedar Bridge would be an important connection
for birders, bicyclists, hikers, commuters, and others for access to the Minnesota River
The links below show trails in the vicinity of the Old Cedar Bridge, and the existing and
proposed trails in the Bloomington area.
Since the Old Cedar Bridge is deemed a regional asset by the City
Council and Bloomington staff, should it be owned and maintained by a state or regional agency,
and are there any other willing owners?
Over the past few years, numerous meetings have been held between the various local and
regional agencies that have an interest in this project. Regional agencies include the United
States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWL), Hennepin County, Friends of the Minnesota Valley, the
Lower Minnesota River Watershed District, Three Rivers Park District, the Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources, and MnDOT. On several occasions, attempts were made to identify willing
participants in future ownership and maintenance responsibilities. To date, all of the agencies
have identified policy and funding challenges that make it difficult for them to participate in
this project and none of the agencies have expressed interest in assuming ownership of the
bridge. The most likely candidate has been the USFWL. Discussions are presently on hold pending
future cost and environmental updates.
Is it possible to create a joint powers organization for
maintenance responsibilities with other agencies?
Yes, it is legally feasible to develop a joint powers organization or a multi-agency agreement
to share operations, maintenance, ownership and liability between agencies. Such an agreement,
however, would need to be consistent with Bloomington's 2013 legislative policy position.
The ownership and maintenance would need to be handled similarly to other regional trail
assets. To date, there has been very little interest from regional agencies in such an
agreement and none has been drafted for consideration.
Recently, others have indicated some willingness to explore limited participation in a joint
powers organization. But no specific proposal has been forwarded.
Is the Old Cedar Bridge a safety hazard?
City staff conducts annual inspections to monitor the structural condition of the bridge. The
City has relied on the findings of an independent structural analysis by a qualified structural
engineer in its decision to close the bridge. The City has also installed fencing, and has
removed some of the bridge decking to deter trespassing on the closed public property.
The condition of the bridge is closely monitored. Currently, the bridge is not considered an
undue safety hazard. Depending on the type and rate of deterioration, additional action may be
needed to ensure the safety of the public as well as the bridge itself.
What is the status of the Minnesota River Valley State Trail?
A plan to construct a trail along the Minnesota River dates back to 1934 when Governor Floyd B.
Olson proposed the idea of utilization of the valley as a component of a regional parkway. The
State Legislature approved MS 85.015 in 1971 which stated that the Commissioner of National
Resources shall establish, develop, maintain, and operate the Minnesota River Valley. The
proposed trail is identified as an important regional amenity in numerous planning documents
including Bloomington' Alternative Transportation Plan and Comprehensive Plan.
Recently, a number of trail advocacy groups have renewed interest in developing the Minnesota
River Valley State Trail and are working with Federal, State and local agencies in an effort to
move its development forward. Currently, the project is still in the planning stages and no
funds have been set aside for its construction. While the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources has been involved in the development of similar state trail segments in the past and
is supportive of this project, no single agency is working to develop the project at this time.
The link below shows existing trail connections between Fort Snelling and the Old Cedar Bridge:
What type of surface will be used for the new state trail?
The discussion of trail surface continues. Bituminous has the advantage of a relatively smooth,
hard surface, but has a tendency to "float" during flooding/high water events. A
compacted gravel surface with enough aggregate graduation in the gravel material to achieve a
relatively smooth surface is an option as well. Cost is a factor in the trail surface choice,
with bituminous surface installation being more expensive and needing additional long-term
maintenance like crack sealing, sealcoating, and overlays. Currently, no decision has been made
regarding trail surface.
Is there funding available for trail construction in
Presently, there is no specific trail funding available.
Do the National Environmental Policy Act requirements apply to
both the bridge project and the trail project?
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements apply to all projects that utilize
Federal funds, involve Federal lands and/or require permits from Federal agencies. Because much
of the trail is proposed to be built on property owned by the US Government and because its
construction will most likely require permits from Federal agencies like the Corp of Engineers,
the project will need to follow the environmental review outlined in NEPA.
Is there a time frame for when construction on the formal state
trail will begin in Bloomington?
There isn't a scheduled time frame for construction of the State Trail in Bloomington. The
DNR has recognized renewed interest in this segment of the trail and may consider undertaking a
master plan process in the next year or so.
Below is a flyer delineating the portion of the state trail now being described as the
"missing link," since the trail is in place in the Fort Snelling area, as well as
further south and near the Minnesota River:
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing to submit a $4M state bonding
request in 2014 to construct the state trail from Fort Snelling to the existing Bloomington
Ferry Road river crossing.
For more information, contact:
Jim Gates, Deputy Director of Public Works
PH: 952-563-8730, TTY: 952-563-8740, FAX: 952-563-4868
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