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Outer lanes on St. Paul bridge deemed inadequate; traffic to be limited

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St. Paul officials will be restricting traffic on the Kellogg Boulevard-Third Street Bridge starting Monday after engineers found the bridge's outer lanes aren't adequately designed to support current traffic.

Regular inspections are done on the bridge, but a recent analysis found the outer lanes of the half-mile concrete bridge don't meet existing federal code to support daily heavy traffic, and the cantilevered piers are cracking, officials said in a news release Tuesday.

“It isn’t that the bridge is in danger of falling, but the information that we have now, that we are seeing deterioration in the piers, means that we are always going to err on the side of safety,” City Engineer John Maczko said, according to the Star Tribune. “One can think back not too far to the 35W bridge, and that’s nothing that we want to happen.”

A temporary closure of the bridge was already planned for Friday morning for construction on Prince Street near Kellogg Boulevard in Lowertown. When the bridge reopens Monday at 6 a.m., traffic will be restricted indefinitely to the center lanes, the city says.

Closing the lanes that run along the edges of the bridge will ensure the bridge is safe and stable until a long-term solution is in place, the city says. Officials are looking into either repairing the bridge or replacing it. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Council President Kathy Lantry said in a news release Tuesday they'll be requesting state and federal money to pursue rebuilding the downtown St. Paul bridge.

Lantry estimates replacing the bridge would cost $30 million to $40 million, while repairing it would cost around $8 million, but notes a new bridge would better accommodate future public transportation, MPR News says.

About 10,300 vehicles use the bridge daily, the Star Tribune says.

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