Legislators take stand to save Rock Island Swing Bridge

A standoff between state and county may provide one last chance to save the Rock Island Swing Bridge in Inver Grove Heights. Rep. Joe Atkins (District 39B) and Sen. Jim Metzen (District 39) have introduced a bill to prohibit demolition of the bridge by Dakota County and MnDOT for two years.

The purpose of the moratorium is to provide time to fully explore funding options to preserve the unique bridge as a public access amenity.

Meanwhile, Washington and Dakota County officials are moving to take advantage of state funds available for emergency bridge removal in order to prevent stabilization or demolition costs falling on county taxpayers. The recent collapse of a section of the bridge on the Washington County side has raised concerns about the safety and feasibility of restoring the bridge, as well as triggering eligibility for the emergency funds.

One day after the bill was introduced, the Dakota County Boards Physical Development Committee approved authorization to execute a Joint Powers Agreement with Washington County for demolition of bridge.

The irony of this bridge story is that in October more than a thousand people took a National Park Service-sponsored tour on the west portion of bridge – an indication of whopping public interest in preserving the bridge. A few weeks later, the east portion collapsed, adding further obstacles to preserving the bridge.

To read more about the Rock Island Swing Bridge, the public tours and the bridge collapse, catch up on articles from the November and December 2008 issues of Mississippi Messages.

For more information about the bill contact Irene Jones, River Corridor Program Director via out contact form or at 651-222-2193 x11.

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