In the 1990s, MN-DOT wanted to build a bypass around Brainerd that would
help move traffic from the Twin Cities up into the Brainerd Lakes area without
creating a bottleneck in the city of Brainerd. The solution was a new 6 mile
segment of MN-371 that would go north to the west side of the city through the
suburb of Baxter. Since the road would cut though a very scenic and
undisturbed section of the state, MN-DOT felt that it was important to create
a visually appealing road with a signature bridge over the Mississippi River.
The consensus is that MN-DOT did a great job with this project. The bridge
is an ordinary prestressed concrete girder bridge, but it is dressed up with
pillars, stylish piers, concrete accents, art work, and detailed metalwork.
It is also proof that a bridge does not have to be overly expensive to be a
nice looking structure.
The river water is very brown at this location. The water below this bridge
is brown until after the merger with the Crow Wing River, a large river that
dilutes the brown tint of the Mississippi, returning the river to its normal
blue hue. Heading north, the brown tint is present at Palisade, but once you
reach Jacobson, it is pure blue again. The brown tint is caused by manganese,
a metal commonly found in the Iron Range region of Minnesota.
The photo above is a view looking south down the length of the traffic
deck. The photo below is a view of the east face of the bridge from the
north east corner of the structure. The photo at the top of the page is
a similar view looking southwest across the river channel from the trail
that crosses under the bridge.
The photo above is a view looking south across the river channel from
under the bridge structure. The photo below is a view looking south
down the length of the regional trail attached to the east side of the
The photo above is a side view of the north bridge abutment. The northeast
bridge tower is visible. The photo below is the northwest bridge tower.