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3rd Avenue Bridge

3rd Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 31, 2013 and June 3, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
3rd Avenue Over Mississippi River
Minneapolis: Hennepin County, Minnesota: United States
Structure Type
Concrete Open Spandrel Deck Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1917 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
237 Feet (72.1 Meters)
Structure Length
1,888 Feet (575.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
58.7 Feet (17.89 Meters)
7 Main Span(s) and 4 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View The Historic Bridge Management Plan For This Historic Bridge


This large concrete arch bridge is an unusual structure. The bridge is configured with an s-curve, a response to the unique site conditions (some rock in the river was unstable and therefor unsuitable) and concerns of surrounding businesses at the time about some bridge proposals affecting the hydropower capacity of the river. These difficulties had resulted in several previous proposals as well including a different arch bridge proposed by the Concrete-Steel Engineering Company of New York, as well as a metal truss bridge designed by the city, both of which were eventually rejected. The city's final designed solution of an s-curve concrete arch bridge met both the functional needs of the crossing, while also maintaining a desired aesthetic that was not found in the truss bridge option. The bridge is noteworthy for its use of a Melan type reinforcing. The reinforcing is configured as built-up latticed steel arches embedded in the concrete.

This bridge suffers from substantial alteration. The original railings have been replaced twice, and during a rehabilitation everything in the superstructure above the arch rings was replaced. However, the most important aspect of the bridge: the Melan reinforced arch ribs... appear to be original. The bridge could be improved by the replacement of the current railing with replicas of the original railing, which is well-documented in the original bridge plans.

Above: This drawing from the original plans shows the Melan reinforcing as it is embedded in the concrete.

Above: These drawings from the original plans show the details of the Melan reinforcing. Note how it is composed of riveted, built-up steel arches.

Above: This is a drawing of the original bridge railing. It was first replaced in

Above: This photo shows the configuration of the falsework, that held the arch in place as it was constructed. 


This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Melan


Photo Galleries and Videos: 3rd Avenue Bridge

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Maps and Links: 3rd Avenue Bridge

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