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Bridge plans swing forward

Published (3/4/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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A bridge built in 1895, closed in 1999 and ordered removed by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2001, may get a reprieve from the scrap heap.

The Rock Island Swing Bridge, owned by the City of Inver Grove Heights, was the last operating toll bridge in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It was also the last operating swing bridge for auto traffic with a design that had cars use the bottom deck, while trains used the top deck. The city hopes to convert the bridge into a recreational pier.

Just days before the bridge was scheduled for demolition last year, a law was enacted giving the bridge a two-year reprieve so planners would have enough time for fund raising.

It took less than a year to raise the money, Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) told the House Finance Committee March 1. Were prepared to have the moratorium removed, so the preservation and restoration efforts can move forward.

According to the citys Web site, the plan includes refurbishing the existing spans, and the construction of two new spans to connect the pier to shore. A park on adjacent land is also planned.

The committee approved HF2485/ SF2253*, sponsored by Atkins and Senate President James Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul), to eliminate the two-year moratorium. It now awaits action by the full House.

The bill was passed 64-0 by the Senate Feb. 22.

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