|Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
The I-35W Bridge On St. Patrick's Day
A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge
Lit Up In Green On March 17, 2012
The new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge features an innovative LED lighting
system where each LED element is individually addressable, allowing any
color in the spectrum to be displayed. On most nights, the bridge is bathed
in a eerie blue glow that looks like something out of a science fiction movie.
However, the bridge is occassionaly lit up in other colors for special
On March 17, 2012, MN-DOT continued the recent tradition of lighting up the
bridge in celebration of holidays and civic events by turning the lights
green in honor of Saint Patrick. Unlike other recent light displays where
the upstream side remained blue in honor of the collapse victims, on this
display, both sides of the bridge were illuminated in green. Saint Patrick's
Day is widely celebrated in the Twin Cities, especially in Saint Paul, not
as much for the religious aspect as it is for the adult beverage consumption.
Adding to the excitement was record high temperatures for March, with the
mercury reaching 80 degrees making it the warmest Saint Patrick's day on
The photo above is a view of the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge from the top
of the bluff on the north side of the Mississippi River. The vantage
point is right next to the north main bridge pier of the nearby 10th Avenue
Bridge. There is just enough of a gap in the brush to get a nice view of
the main channel span. Once the leaves come out, this view will most
likely be obstructed.
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The photo above is my favorite view of the I-35W Bridge from the bluffs on
the south side of the river. The vantage point is located next to the
nearby 10th Avenue Bridge and the viewing location is almost eye level
with the traffic deck. The trick to this location is to have a short enough
exposure to show the true color of the light while having a long enough
exposure to allow head and tail lights on cars to illuminate the guard rail.
In this case I struck out on the guardrail, there simply wasn't enough
traffic this late at night to catch a photo where the guardrail was lit up.
This photo is the downstream side of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point
is the south side of the West River Parkway about halfway between the I-35W
bridge and the 10th Avenue Bridge.
This view is also from the south side of the river, but just a little further
downstream than the photo above. The vantage point is the bicycle path where
it curves to pass under the 10th Avenue Bridge.
This photo is from essentially the same vantage point on the south side of
the Mississippi River, but it is closer view that centers on the south main
bridge piers. The white lights at the base of the piers illuminate the
bridge observation deck.
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River through the bridge
piers towards the far end of the structure. The vantage point is the sidewalk
that runs along West River Parkway where a walkway leads down to the bridge
This view is looking north along the east face of the I-35W bridge from
directly under the edge of the bridge deck. The vantage point is the
sidewalk leading down to the observation deck on the south side of the river.
This view is looking north across the Mississippi River from the observation
deck located under the south end of the I-35W bridge. There is a similar
observation deck on the north side of the river, but it is not yet open to
the public as of 2012. There is a second set of piers behind the main bridge
piers that is partially obscured by a large gravel pile that is part of a
sewer line project just downstream of the bridge site. The light located at
the far end of the bridge between the two bridge spans is the monument on
the north end of the bridge. The river is about 430 feet wide at this
This photo is the upstream side of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point is a
small clearing along the sidewalk on the West River Parkway. This view is
often much more obstructed by leaves, but in this case, the leaves have
not come out yet this year.
This photo is looking east towards the I-35W bridge as it passes over the
West River Parkway. The south bridge abutment is on the right side of the
This photo is looking west towards the bridge spans as they pass over the West
River Parkway. The vantage point is standing directly under the 10th Avenue
Bridge. The crosswalk that is lit up is where the trail leading down from the
Northern Pacific Bridge #9 crosses West River Parkway to meet the trail that
runs along the west bank of the Mississippi River.
This view is looking downstream towards the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge
from the deck of the Stone Arch Bridge. The bridge deck is about 50 feet
above the water. The Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam is located
just in front of the I-35W Bridge, which serves to block what would otherwise
be an excellent reflection on the surface of the river.
This is a view looking downstream towards the west face of the I-35W bridge.
The vantage point is the parking area at the east end of Mill Ruins Park.
This is the best side view of the bridge available from near the water line.
The lower dam is blocking part of the view of the bridge piers, but the still
water behind the dam makes for some good reflections.
This is a closer view of the north main bridge piers as seen from the access
road leading to the upstream side of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock &
Dam. The dam structure is partially blocking our view of the bridge from
this side of the river (the south river bank).
This photo is looking south across the river from the edge of the cliff on the
north side of the river. Interestingly, it appears that the light panels are
not working properly on the north side of the main bridge piers on the north
side of the river (left side of this photo). The orange light between the
piers on the right side of the photo is the marker light at the downstream
exit of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam.
This is a view looking southwest towards the I-35W Bridge from an empty lot
located between the new bridge and the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge on the north
side of the river. While the entire length of the bridge is visible at this
location, much of main channel span would be blocked by trees in the summer,
and the piers are not visible since they are located in the gorge beyond the
This is the north bridge span and north bridge abutment. This span crosses
an old railroad yard. Main Street will eventually be extended east under
this bridge span to connect to the East River Parkway and the future Granery
Road project. This photo is overexposed a bit to show the ground the the
secondary bridge piers, which are not lit with LED lights.
The photo above is looking up towards the downstream edge of the bridge deck.
A row of LED light panels is located just under the edge of the bridge deck,
which shines light on the side of the bridge structure. The darker structure
on the left side of the photo is the saddle structure at the top of a bridge
pier. A pair of doors provide inspectors access to the bridge bearings.
This photo is the base of one of the main bridge piers. The grating covers
a water drain. The LED light panels for each side of each of the main bridge
piers are also located under the grate. A guard rail keeps visitors away
from the drain and the LED light panels.
This is one of the light panels located at the base of a main bridge pier.
The panels are made up of large LED lamps. They are arranged in a series
with red, blue, and green lamps. A computerized controller can address
each lamp individually, allowing for any color in the spectrum to be
created. Panels at the base of the piers light up the piers, while panels
along the edge of the bridge spans light up the sides of the structure.
This view shows that the green light is composed mostly of green, but a bit
of red and a tiny amount of blue added to to the mix.
This is the base of the two main bridge piers on the south side of the river
supporting the upstream bridge span. The darker areas on the side of the
bridge piers are places were graffiti has been painted over.
This photo is looking up towards the saddle structures at the top of the bridge
piers. Note that the lighting system creates a bright spot on the piers where
the piers bend back outwards just under the access doors under the bridge deck.
These two photos are looking upstream from Northern Pacific Bridge Number 9,
an old railroad bridge over the Mississippi River that has been converted
to pedestrian and bicycle use. The 10th Avenue Bridge is partially
blocking the view of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, which makes for
a good effect since the concrete arch bridge shows up as a black shadow
in front of the I-35W Bridge lights. The photo above is a wide shot from
near the south side if the river showing a nice green reflection making it
look like the river was colored the same shade of green as the beer being
served at area bars. The photo below is looking southwest across the river
to position the downtown lights over the south end of the I-35W bridge.