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MnDOT closes Highway 23/Division Street bridge in St. Cloud

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) today ordered the closure of the Highway 23/Division Street bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Cloud due to distortions found in gusset plates at three locations of the bridge.

"The bridge will remain closed until it either can be repaired, or if repairs are not possible, until the bridge can be replaced," said Bob McFarlin, acting transportation commissioner. "The safety of the public is our first and foremost concern. We are taking a conservative approach in closing the bridge until we are absolutely sure it is safe for operation."

The distortions (bending) were discovered late this afternoon during a visual inspection that is part of an "extensive, systematic and continuous review" of 25 similar truss bridges across the state, McFarlin said. The inspection showed the gusset plates, metal plates used to reinforce bridge joints, had bent one-quarter of an inch.

The Highway 23 bridge, built in 1957, is a continuous steel truss bridge that is 890 feet long and carries four lanes of traffic and approximately 31,000 vehicles per day.

"The bridge was scheduled for replacement in 2015, but even before today's action, we had begun planning to accelerate its replacement to some time in the next two years," McFarlin said.

The bridge was inspected Aug. 3, 2007 as part of a statewide bridge inspection program Governor Pawlenty ordered in the wake of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis. The bridge was found to be safe for operation.

In January 2008, MnDOT conducted an engineering review of the original design plans in accordance with the new federal highway direction and no deficiencies were found. The March 20, 2008 visual inspection was part of an ongoing, systematic review of the Highway 23 bridge.

Traffic detours

Traffic on Highway 23/Division Street will be detoured via 4th Avenue, St. Germain Street and Wilson Avenue.

In addition, motorists can use Highway 15, Stearns County Road 29, Highway 10 back to Highway 23/Division Street.