Update on work at Sabo Bridge

City engineers began consulting today with the Sabo Bridge’s original designers and others to start to formulate plans and options for moving forward with stabilization and repair of the bridge. Crews are also continuing to install structures to shore up part of the bridge where a pair of cable supports broke loose late on Sunday, Feb. 19. One set of support structures had been put in place by Monday evening, and the work will continue.

The bridge, which carries bicycle and pedestrian traffic over Hiawatha Avenue, was closed early Monday after a cable connection broke on the bridge’s mast, causing a pair of suspension cables to break loose. The connection for a second pair of cables was found to be compromised as well, and although they are still in place, engineers will need to carefully remove the stress on those cables to avoid further damage. City and County engineers are working with the original design engineers and others to determine the best way to stabilize the entire structure, so that the ongoing work to inspect and repair the bridge can move forward. The bridge design includes 18 cables on each side of the bridge, for a total of 36 cables.

As this work continues the bridge will be closed to any traffic on the structure, and Hiawatha Avenue will continue to be closed from 26th Street East to Lake Street. Because the Hiawatha Light Rail line’s tracks run under the bridge, Metro Transit will continue to use buses to replace trains between the Franklin Avenue Station and the 38th Street Station. It is impossible to tell at this time early in the response how long the light rail and street closures will continue, however, a priority is to restore light rail service. The Sabo Bridge itself will remain closed until repair work is completed.

Annual bridge inspections

The bridge is one of 373 inspected annually by the City of Minneapolis. The City’s licensed bridge inspectors examine and rate bridges using federal and state guidelines. Since its opening, the Sabo Bridge has undergone inspections every year. Two inspections were performed in fall 2011, including a more robust examination of the bridge that’s performed on all City bridges every four to five years. Those inspections did not find any problems with the bridge’s cable support system. 

The Sabo Bridge is a 2,200 foot-long cable-stayed suspension bridge that opened in November of 2007 to carry Midtown Greenway bicycles and pedestrians over Hiawatha Avenue. The bridge was built by Hennepin County and turned over to the City of Minneapolis when construction was completed.

Published Feb. 21, 2012