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Granite Falls bridge may be a real survivor after all, as it avoids gov.'s veto pen

Floodwaters in April 1997 damaged the unique and historic Roebling suspension bridge that provides a connection for pedestrians between the east and west sides of Granite Falls over the Minnesota River. State funding contained in the capital improvement bonding bill would cover half of the estimated costs to repair the bridge, pictured in this undated photo. Tribune file photo

GRANITE FALLS -- A unique and historic pedestrian bridge that has survived two major floods may have just survived its biggest test of all.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty did not line item veto a $512,000 bonding appropriation for repairs to the 1935 suspension bridge that spans the Minnesota River in Granite Falls.

City officials were excited to discover that the pedestrian bridge was not vetoed when they reviewed a listing of the appropriations still contained in the bill, according to City Manager Bill Lavin.

He said the city is still taking a cautious approach, as the legislative session and all of the debates are far from over, he said.

If the funding contained in the capital improvement bill remains intact, the city will need to find a way to match the money. The city manager said the city has not yet developed a strategy for raising the funds.

The city is hoping to preserve the historic structure. It is one of only a handful of suspension bridges remaining in the state.

It was developed by the John A. Roebling bridge building firm of Minneapolis. Roebling is the developer of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

The bridge survived the 1997 and 2001 floods, but the rushing waters and debris took their toll on the bridge. There are small tilts evident on its piers, and the 285-foot span is aligned at an angle skewed to the floor of the river.

An engineering and architect's analysis of the structure estimated it would cost just over a $1 million to repair it.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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