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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
US Highway 169
Mississippi River Highway Crossing
Grand Rapids, MN

US Highway 169

• Structure ID: NBI 5122
• Location: River Mile 1180.4
• River Elevation: 1,245 Feet
• County: Itasca
• Highway: US Highway 169
• Daily Traffic Count: 14,500 (2004)
• Bridge Type: Concrete Arch
• Bridge Length: 160 Feet, 100 Foot Longest Span
• Bridge Width: 79 Feet, 4 Lanes
• Height Above Water: 19 Feet
• Date Built: Opened September 1932, Reopened August 1977
From street level, this bridge is hardly noticeable as a river crossing. It is just another small bump in the road as one travels from one side of Grand Rapids to the other side. It is amazing at how wrong that first impression can be. What we really have here is a fantastic example of the 1930s era concrete arch bridge. While this bridge does not have the art deco features of a bridge like the MN-210 river bridge in Brainerd, it is nevertheless nice to see a unique bridge from that era stills surviving today.

The bridge started life as a 2 lane bridge. The bridge was torn down to its arches and rebuilt as a four lane bridge in 1977. That does make the bridge look a little awkward given that the new deck is so much wider than the arches. The basic structure of the bridge was built so strong that it is easily able to carry this greatly expanded bridge deck and traffic load.

The City of Brainerd appears to be hiding their 1930s gem of a bridge. That is not the case here in Grand Rapids. The paper mill and the Blandin Foundation have set up walkways, overlooks, and paths along the river to allow visitors to get up close to the mighty Mississippi.

US Highway 169
The photo above is the sign for the park located near the Blandin Foundation headquarters. The photo below is a view looking north down the length of the bridge deck. The photo above is a view from the observation deck on the northwest corner of the structure located in front of the paper mill office building. Note that the water level on this spring day is much higher than in the summer photos below.

US Highway 169
US Highway 169
The photo above is the bridge deck looking to the south. The photo below is the bridge plate.

US Highway 169
US Highway 169
The photo above is a profile view of the bridge as seen from the south river bank located upriver near the Blandin Dam. The photo below is a profile view of the bridge as seen from the park along the north river bank just downriver from the structure.

US Highway 169

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