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City of Mankato chosen as new owner of historic bridge

The Kern Bridge crossed the Le Seur River from 1873 to 2020.
Kern Bridge

The city of Mankato has been selected as the new owner of the historic Kern Bridge in Blue Earth County.

After soliciting buyers last summer, a steering committee chose Mankato as the new owner of one of the oldest bridges in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The Kern Bridge had crossed the Le Seur River from 1873 to 2020, but the city of Mankato will now be in charge of rehabilitating and relocating the historic bridge. The city is responsible for 20% of the project's funding, while 80% will come from federal money.

The bridge is the only bow-string arch bridge in the state and the longest of its type in the country. Last winter, it was dismantled and stored in a sealed container.

Mankato’s plan is to place the bridge five miles downstream over the Blue Earth River. The bridge will connect Land of Memories Park to Sibley Park, which will help the area meet its local and regional trail plans.

The city of Mankato beat out Fergus Falls, Sherburne County and Watonwan County for ownership of the bridge.

According to MnDOT, Mankato’s plan for the bridge will put it in a setting similar to the original site. The location also allows the bridge’s arch to be visible, an important consideration for the department.

“All the applicants certainly worked hard and presented proposals that would have provided a good home to this important piece of Minnesota’s transportation heritage," said historian Katie Haun Schuring, who served on the bridge’s steering committee, in a statement. 

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