The southbound bridge on Highway 81 between Minneapolis and Robbinsdale closed months ahead of schedule because motorists ignored weight restrictions on the deteriorating bridge.
Last week, the Hennepin County Department of Transportation shifted traffic from southbound West Broadway Avenue between 29th and Abbott avenues to the northbound bridge, with traffic traveling in a single lane in each direction.
However, traffic on the bridge wasn't supposed to be realigned until the spring when Hennepin County begins the West Broadway Avenue Bridges reconstruction project, which will replace the three existing bridges – one for northbound traffic over Wirth Parkway and Lowry Avenue, one for southbound traffic and one connecting from Lowry Avenue (County Road 153) to West Broadway Avenue.
According to the Star Tribune, the county posted weight restrictions for the southbound lanes of the bridge to keep dump trucks over 24 tons and semitrailer trucks over 32 tons off of the bridge. The county tightened those restrictions so anything more than 8 tons would be prohibited from using the bridge, but large trucks still were crossing the bridge.
These repeated violations prompted the county to close the bridge months before it had planned to.
The website for the project is available here.