St. Cloud mayor says Monday will be true test of trafficby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
The mayor of St. Cloud says Friday morning's commute wasn't too bad, even after state officials closed a key bridge.
But he says a big reason for that is probably the Good Friday holiday.
St. Paul, Minn. — Drivers in St. Cloud got a big question mark thrown into their commute when Mn-DOT closed the DeSoto Bridge, which carries highway 23 traffic across the Mississippi River.
Inspectors had found bends in the gusset plates that support the bridge. Gusset plates have been linked to the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, and the St. Cloud bridge has the same design.
"We'll have a better indication Monday of how the traffic flow is and we'll make adjustments on the detours," said mayor Dave Kleis, in an interview. "Our city engineers and MnDOT engineers will time lights and make additional adjustments to make sure traffic flows as smooth as possible."
Kleis also says replacing the bridge would make more sense than fixing it because MnDot was already planning for a new bridge - even before yesterday's closure.
Meanwhile, state transportation officials say they're looking at new funding approved by the Legislature to possibly speed up the construction of a new bridge.
Transportation officials say it's not clear whether they can repair the St. Cloud bridge. And they say no matter what, they're looking at accelerating its replacement.
Acting Transportation Commissioner Bob McFarlin said it's possible a new St. Cloud bridge could be put on a fast track the same way the new I-35W bridge has been.
He also estimated that a new bridge would cost around $30 million, though the state is still in very preliminary planning stages, and a final cost figure has not been set.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)