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Neighborhood picnic on 38th Street bridge may be a Minnesota first

August 13, 2018

The 38th Street bridge over Interstate 35W is shutting down again, but this time for only an evening and for a good purpose: free dinner.

Residents of the Kingfield neighborhood on the west side of the freeway and the Central and Bryant neighborhoods on the east side will meet in the middle, spread out their chairs and break bread from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday as part of Dinner on the 38th Street Bridge.

Live music, activities for kids and a sit-down dinner catered by Eat for Equity served family-style are part of a celebration marking the opening of the newly rebuilt bridge. The bridge, which had been closed since March as part of the massive I-35W reconstruction project through south Minneapolis, reopened Aug. 3

The event may also be a history maker. Erik Baxstrom, the west area engagement coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said he cant recall a bridge in Minnesota being shut down for a picnic.

Of course, food is always a big draw, but this event is more about building relationships, said Sarah Linnes-Robinson, executive director of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association. The nonprofit Marnitas Table will lead a dialogue.

The populations [on each side of the bridge] are very different from each other, she said. This is about uniting communities. By sharing a meal together and building relationships, we hope this is this start of intentional social connections and conversations.

Eleven organizations are partnering for the event, which is open to anybody. To get a head count, Linnes-Robinson asks attendees to reserve a spot by calling 612-823-5980.

Fixes made to Franklin bridge

The two-year-old Franklin Avenue bridge spanning West River Parkway and the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is looking better than ever.

In June, the Drive reported that concrete had flaked off the top of the railing at places along the 1,054-foot bridge. Large cracks had also appeared near 10 pilasters, those sections of the railing that appear to support a column but really are more ornamental than functional.

The flaws were unsightly but did not affect the structural integrity of the bridge, officials said.

Hennepin County hired Kraemer North America to refurbish the bridge, which dates back to 1923. Over two construction seasons, the $51 million project included placing a new deck on the historic arched structure and adding sidewalks and bike lanes separated from traffic.

Since the bridge was almost new and still under warranty, the contractor has made the fixes and other repairs to get the bridge back in shape.

We can confirm that the repairs have been made to our satisfaction, said Colin Cox, a spokesman for the Hennepin County Transportation Department.

Whitney bridge reopens

In case you missed the news last week, the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 94 between the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Loring Park has reopened. MnDOT closed the bridge in April to restore the wooden deck and repaint the bridge, a 1988 artwork by Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani.

The bridge was refreshed with three colors of paint, and the tarnished metal letters of the John Ashbery poem that line the interior of the bridge were replaced with new metal letters.

Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.

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