America’s longest bowstring arch truss bridge removed near Mankato

Updated: Feb. 6, 2020 at 7:09 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The historic bowstring truss Kern Bridge, one of Minnesota's oldest bridges, has been stretching across the Le Sueur River since 1873.

Extending 189 feet, it’s the longest bowstring arch-truss bridge in America.

“They don’t make them like this anymore by any means,” Blue Earth County Engineer Ryan Thilges exclaimed.

The bridge has been closed to traffic for approximately 30 years.

Recently, it was noticed that the limestone block abutments were failing and county officials were concerned it would be washed away into the river by a flood.

“How can we mitigate that hazard? We still had people coming out here taking pictures on the bridge and things like that when really they shouldn’t have been out on it. We did have an attractive nuisance, so we were looking for a way to get the bridge down,” Thilges explained.

It was then decided the bridge had to be taken out of its original placement and used elsewhere.

Thursday morning, the bridge was lifted from above the water and placed on the east side of the river.

That was just the first half of the job, however.

“They’ll then begin carefully cataloging and disassembling the pieces, putting them into steel shipping containers for storage and then MnDOT will actually work on doing a solicitation for future ownership and federal funding for reconstructing the bridge for probably a pedestrian and trail purpose,” added Thilges.

Funding for the project came from federal aid and State Aid Township Bridge Funds.

Some was even set aside to help refurbish the structure before it's re-built.

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