The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

January 18, 2014

Dodd Ford bridge deal is a win-win

Thumbs up to the county residents and government officials who came to a reasonable compromise to save the historic Dodd Ford bridge near Amboy.

For years Amboy area residents have been working to save the bridge from demolition. The bridge has been closed for decades to heavy traffic and completely closed five years ago. It was considered “fracture critical,” meaning if one part failed, the entire bridge would likely collapse.

Blue Earth County had originally planned to demolish the bridge and construct a new one, but local preservationists fought that effort and began to solicit support for preserving the historical structure. They were able to eventually get it listed on the National Register of Historical places and garnered support from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, a group that put the bridge on its top 10 most endangered historical structures list.

While the county was willing to consider preserving the bridge, the cost and methods were barriers. But then County Engineer Al Forsberg saw a similar old bridge in Minneapolis that was supported by a new concrete and steel bridge deck underneath. That is the idea that will make the Dodd Ford bridge useable again while keeping its historic structure in place.

The Blue Earth County Board approved a final allocation of $130,000 for the $1.3 million project after the preservation group was turned down for a state grant of $170,000. Much of the funding will come from the state.

The county and the Amboy residents have come to a reasonable compromise on this project and will preserve one of the most historic bridges in Minnesota. It will serve residents and farmers in the area because it will keep an important transportation route open in rural Blue Earth County.

It’s great to see people coming together to preserve the bridge and serve public transportation needs at the same time.

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