Pair of bridge studies underway
Nora G. Hertel St. Cloud Times | USA TODAY NETWORK
Two groups are studying parts of the Mississippi River with plans to build new bridges across it.
The Mississippi River Bridge Planning Study is underway, exploring parts of southern St. Cloud for a potential bridge crossing.
And the Minnesota Department of Transportation is looking between Elk River and Brooklyn Park in a river crossing feasibility analysis.
The south St. Cloud bridge would connect the city and Haven Township and be part of an urban beltline roadway circling the urban center, according to an online background report about the study. The beltline has been in the region’s long-term plans for 30 years.
Planners want public input on the bridge corridor between now and April 16. See information on the project and participate in a survey online: www.cutt.ly/river-bridge.
The beltway would encircle much of St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park, according to the report. “This river crossing will provide continuity and relieve congestion, while addressing a consistently stated preference by the public for a roadway that bypasses the urban core.”
The study underway will look at economic, political, social and environmental factors tied to a new crossing. The corridor in Haven Township is expected to eventually be annexed into St. Cloud.
A bridge on the southern side of the city would appeal to commuters from Princeton and Milaca who need to access Interstate Highway 94, according to the report. “The University Drive Bridge is already over capacity and continues to see increased traffic demands as the city grows to the south.”
Further south, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is looking at the northwest metro for a potential river crossing. The Sherburne County Board was updated on the study in February. The analysis will look at the need for more river crossing capacity, update old studies and re-engage cities
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The University Bridge over the Mississippi River is pictured Friday in St. Cloud. DAVE SCHWARZ/ST. CLOUD TIMES
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and counties, according to Sherburne County documents.
The first study on potential river crossings in this area is 32 years old, according to the Department of Transportation’s project page. The new feasibility analysis is a traffic investigation and the first of many steps to assess future needs.
“Growth in this region is expected to continue through 2040, causing additional congestion to the roadway network and existing Mississippi River crossings in this region,” according to the project page. There are existing bridges in Elk River, Anoka and Coon Rapids.
Nora Hertel is the government watchdog reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Reach her at 320-255-8746 or nhertel@ stcloudtimes.com. Follow her on Twitter @nghertel.