MINNEAPOLIS -- The new Lyndale Avenue bridge over Minnehaha Creek opened to drivers after more than nine months of construction.
The city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County closed the deteriorating bridge last January. It dated back to the late 1800's at the site of an old flour mill.
The new bridge and road reconstruction includes new single lanes in each direction, new street lamps, turn lanes, medians, and sidewalks.
Crews will spend the next month putting finishing details on the project, such as stairs down to the creek.
"It's emotional because you see what happens when a bridge it taken down, it's a disconnection," said Sandra Nelson who lives in an apartment complex next to the bridge.
She's worried about her neighbors in this South Minneapolis business corridor, like Dan Campo, owner of South Lyndale Liquors. He cut his own salary and employee hours to survive.
"Basically our business went down 30 percent," said Campo, citing a seven figure loss over the course of construction. "Road construction for a small business is like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. When you stop it's a relief."
Campo and Nelson were among the first to cross the bridge together after a ribbon cutting with more than 100 people from the neighborhood. Nelson cheered in her power wheelchair, and Campo, in his motorcycle, with his St. Bernard, Tobias, in a side car.
"It's glorious," Nelson said. "What would we do without the bridges in life that bring people together? The bridge builders, where would we be without them?"
Campo says he should be able to overcome the financial loss, and in the past nine months, he has learned to bridge both struggle and success.
"Traffic is starting to come back already we get to bring back our employees and bump back up everything, so I am excited," he said.
This last portion of the project replaced the bridge over Minnehaha Creek and reconstructed the roadway from the creek to West 56th Street. Lyndale was reconstructed from 38th Street to 50th Street in 2008, and from 38th Street to 31st Street in 2009.
The Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association will sponsor a "Celebrate Lyndale Bridge Opening" Saturday October 20th, from 11am to 4pm. The public can shop at area businesses affected by the construction, participate in special offers, drawing and sales, and even take part in a historic walking tour of the bridge.
"In 1997, residents from the 10 neighborhoods along this corridor developed a vision for a 21st century Lyndale Avenue that connected the neighborhoods, was safe for pedestrians and vehicles, and restored the grandeur of the avenue. Completion of this project is the realization of their vision," said Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman. "Lyndale Avenue is now not just a transportation corridor, but a destination."
Hennepin County says minimal construction will continue through early November, but the road and bridge will remain open at all times.