The I-35W Bridge

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  • Nov 1, 2010

Following the tragedy of the I-35W Bridge collapse in 2007, very high standards were set in place for bridge construction through Minnesota as well as the United States. This modern concrete bridge, which utilized a design/build process, was opened in less than one year. The 504-foot-long main span across the Mississippi River was erected in just 47 days and the bridge opened to traffic in 339 days after start of construction.

The bridge’s design embraces both efficiency and the desire to make a strong but elegant statement on the river. The organic shapes of the concrete piers and superstructure echo the forms of the natural features and arched bridges in the vicinity. The proportions of the bridge reflect strength and elegance in their unique design. The two main piers feature observation platforms curved along the river’s edge. Visually the appearance underneath is a sweeping form creating a visually clean and quiet space below the bridge and a harmony with its environment.

High-strength, high-performance reinforced concrete was utilized throughout the bridge. Concrete was poured over double mats of epoxy-coated steel reinforcing bars thus providing corrosion protection to the reinforcing steel ensuring an enduring structure. Chosen for its protection from corrosion, the epoxy-coated reinforcing steel (ECR rebar) ranged in size from #3 bars to #20 bars.

The new bridge incorporates many innovative and eco-conscious materials, including the first use of low-energy LED highway lighting in America, the first major use of a pollution reducing cement in the gateway elements, and state-of-the-art smart bridge technology that monitors bridge behavior in real time and provides valuable feedback.