Wabasha Street Bridge, Saint Paul

4.2
#8 of 9 in Historic Sites in Saint Paul
The Wabasha Street Bridge is a segmental bridge that spans the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It was named Wabasha Street Freedom Bridge in 2002, to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It actually consists of two separate bridges, one for northbound and one for southbound traffic. The use of a concrete segmental box girder bridge provided a construction advantage because no falsework needed to be built beneath the bridge.

The bridge opened to traffic in 1998; some decorative elements were not completed until late 2001. It was built by Lunda Construction Company and was designed by Toltz, King, Duvall, Anderson & Associates, Inc.. A large opening ceremony was planned, with bridge closed to traffic and free ice cream. Mayor Norm Coleman let loose two rehabilitated Bald eagles, a male and a female. The planning for the event was largely carried out by the city's marketing department, under the direction of Joe Zappa.

The new bridge replaced an earlier structure that was built in 1889.

The new bridge was built with pedestrians in mind. It features 11-foot-wide sidewalks (3.4 m), six overlooks at the pier locations, and a stairway down to Raspberry Island. The color scheme of the bridge was also planned to reflect the architectural heritage of St. Paul, with a soft buff color (the color of sandstone) to reflect the colors used in many downtown St. Paul buildings. The color of terracotta roofs in the city was used to select the color of the railings, and the green patina of the St. Paul Cathedral is echoed in the ornamental color of the overlooks.

The new bridge has won several awards, including the Federal Highway Administration 1998 Excellence in Highway Design Award and the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers 2001 Seven Wonders of Engineering in Minnesota award.

The pedestrian walkways are on the outside of the bridge. There is a gap of 8.7 feet (2.7 m) between the two bridge decks, between the southbound bridge and the northbound bridge. In July 2011, a man jumped over the inner railing, on the side not designated for pedestrians, thinking a landing was on the other side. Instead, he fell 55 feet (17 m) and landed on Raspberry Island underneath the bridge. He survived the fall but was critically injured.
To mark the Minnesota Senate's vote to allow same sex marriage in Minnesota, mayor Chris Coleman issued a proclamation on May 13, 2013 temporarily renaming the bridge "Wabasha Street Freedom to Marry Bridge" and ordered dozens of rainbow flags to be flown on the bridge.
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Wabasha Street Bridge Reviews

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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
8 reviews
Google
4.0
TripAdvisor
  • This bridge is spectacular for anyone who wants to jog, walk, bike or drive over it. It’s so beautiful and lined with flags. There are views of huge buildings and the water beneath that you just...  more »
  • This bridge goes over Harriet Island Regional Park and Raspberry Island. There are sections that wind down with color coordinating metal steps and railings that bring you below to the park. The...  more »
Google
  • This bridge has a terrific vantage point for viewing the river and island, and Raspberry Park was refreshingly nice in the city.

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