It's taken four years, but work on the new Lafayette Bridge in St. Paul is finally finished.
Minnesota transportation officials and dignitaries marked the end of the $130 million project on Tuesday, with Gov. Mark Dayton and Mayor of St. Paul Chris Coleman among those in attendance at the official opening the Pioneer Press reports.
Federal funding was found to pay for 80 percent of a replacement for the Highway 52 bridge, which crosses the Mississippi to and from downtown St. Paul, with work starting in 2011.
This was after the bridge was identified as the state's "most deficient" bridge following increased inspections in the wake of the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis in 2007, the Star Tribune reports.
The two, semi-connected north and southbound spans are now fully open, with the newspaper saying it brings an end to four years of drivers "navigating narrow lanes and through tight and twisting turns" as the bridges were built.
"This took a long time and it was well worth the wait," State Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle told the newspaper.
According to MPR, the new bridges include a pedestrian and bike trail installed between St. Paul's West Side and Lafayette Park areas, and also "radically changed" its north end, routing Highway 52 under I-94 to reach E. 7th Street and taking out the curve between 52 and I-94.
Both the north and southbound lanes are also equipped with an anti-icing system that will see chemicals applied to the bridge deck before freezing conditions arrive, KSTP reports.
MPR notes there will still be some work going on removing demolition debris from the site and putting the final touches on abutments and sidewalks, but no more road closures will be associated with it.