Ah, the Old Cedar Bridge. A beloved and much needed link from Richfield/Bloomington to the south-of-river suburbs.
Closed to all but wildcats and scofflaws in 2002, the bridge is complicated to repair or replace, because it’s in a delicate wetland, and it’s considered a historic structure. It’s technically the property of the City of Bloomington, but runs through the federally-operated Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The city wants neither to own nor operate the bridge.
It’s been quite a saga — a replacement was funded in 2008, but never came about due to complexities, and funding shortfall ($2 million was funded, but practically speaking renovation is going to run a minimum of $5 million, because of the historic designation. The current pot is over $5 million, but it’s a true fact that projects like this never come in at the minimum.)
In the time since the bridge closed, light rail stations have opened in Bloomington, adding more utility for bike commuters who could potentially make it to the Bloomington stations and use transit to extend their journeys — an option that increases as the Central Corridor comes to life.
Supporters of the bridge are going to gather this Saturday at 11 AM. State Representative Ann Lenczewski of Bloomington and Governor Mark Dayton are expected to be in attendance. This is something of a repeat of a similar rally held in 2007, which featured Representative Lenczewski and then-Governor Tim Pawlenty. Representative Lenczewski hopes to sponsor legislation to close funding gaps, and encourage the feds and Bloomington to make something happen.
The Hennepin County Bicycle Advisory Committee will be hosting this shin-dig and would love for concerned citizens who see the critical need for a river crossing through the central section of the 494 corridor to attend. The rally will be on the Bloomington side of the bridge, which is near Cedar Avenue and Old Shakopee Road.