View of Washington Avenue Bridge

Washington Avenue Pedestrian Bridge Gets a Facelift

As a University of Minnesota employee, I walk across the Washington Avenue Bridge every day. It’s often part of my commute but it is also one of my daily walking destinations. The bridge is a focal point for people visiting or passing through the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. In recent years, the bridge’s enclosed walkway has fallen into disrepair. While there is a project planned for a comprehensive renovation, the funding has yet to be secured. To bridge the gap between an eyesore and a shiny new pedestrian bridge, the University of Minnesota’s Facilities Management team came up with a creative solution to the problem. As a thank you to this team of professionals who often does not get recognized for their hard work, I wanted to share this video as an example of ways people can come together to find affordable solutions that make a difference in how we experience our built environment.

Visit the bridge

On September 29 and 30, University of Minnesota students will be painting the interior of the bridge. Visit campus to view the new artwork and take an autumnal walk or bike ride along the Mississippi River!

Share your creative solutions stories

I invite you to share some of projects you’ve been a part or have noticed that have used creative approaches or made the most of budget constraints. Let’s celebrate the small victories together!

Janelle Nivens

About Janelle Nivens

Janelle is an urban explorer who likes to challenge herself to walk long distances (40 miles is her record). She lives in southwest Minneapolis with Scott and their adorable dog Stewie and works at the University of Minnesota. Janelle documents what catches her eye on long walks in hopes of inspiring others to discover hidden gems in their own communities. Walk with her on Instagram, Twitter (@Janellie23), and FitBit.

8 thoughts on “Washington Avenue Pedestrian Bridge Gets a Facelift

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    Interesting! I walk across this bridge at least four times a week, and I’d wondered why the panels looked so sharp on the outside, but the inside still appeared to be rotting away.

    I’m glad they did something, but the structure is still in terrible shape, and much of the new paint inside is already peeling. I’m glad further improvements are still planned.

  2. MB

    They fail to mention the most interesting new thing (though I don’t know if the U facilities people were responsible or rogue art students) — Several of the small divots and pits in the concrete walkway which we’re accustomed to seeing as little puddles have been filled with some sort of clear acrylic or epoxy … and still look like puddles… but with little rubber dinosaur, soldier, and monster toys, and maybe a few coins entombed in plastic.

    Look down at the larger holes in the concrete next time you cross on the peds-only side.

  3. David MarkleDavid Markle

    The carpenters and painters are doing a good job, but management was terribly remiss in failing to timely attend to the deteriorating bottom edges of the metal wall panel frames. The present work only masks the underlying problem. Years ago, when the steel began to rust, the surfaces should have been cleaned of rust flakes, treated with rust converter and coated with a high quality marine grade paint.

    Now we have an illustration that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of short-term cosmetics, much less what’s now needed for a real cure (namely a replacement of the frames). A sad waste.

    1. hokan

      Too, many of those panels are/were sliding doors. It’d have been nice to have those maintained so they could be opened summers.

    2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      The structure atop the bridge is completely deficient, rusting or not. They haven’t been able to use the heaters in ages, because it’s not insulated at all and barely keeps the wind out. (Yet, there’s not enough wind to cool it down in the summer, so it’s unpleasant in both summer and winter.)

      I think they’re right to just do some spit and polish for now, and plan to completely replace the enclosure. Ideally, it would be great to see something fully climate-controlled, with revolving doors, etc on the ends and better lighting inside.

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