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Surveying the54th Street bridge over Minnehaha Creek

Surveying the54th Street bridge over Minnehaha Creek

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Published by Steve Timmer
Based on a description of the bridge that the designers proposed for the street as it crosses Minnehaha Creek, a couple of us went out and conducted our own crude, but I think revealing, survey.
Based on a description of the bridge that the designers proposed for the street as it crosses Minnehaha Creek, a couple of us went out and conducted our own crude, but I think revealing, survey.

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Published by: Steve Timmer on Oct 29, 2013
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10/29/2013

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- 1 -To: Transportation Commission membersFrom: Steve TimmerDate: October 28, 2013Members of the Commission:Last Thursday at the Transportation Commission meeting, the proposal to raise the bridge deck on 54
th
 Street
three feet 
was discussed. Few people, me included, have heretofore focused on theconsequences
of doing that, although I’m told
that
some mention of it as an “option” was made
by thedesigners earlier. It escaped me.This proposal would put a massive structure
(especially if it’s
a roman arch bridge of the type shown tothe Commission) over the creek, a genuine blot on the little creek valley between Minnehaha andBrookview Avenues. It would tower over the area.I was curious to see what such a bridge might look like, so my neighbor Mark Epple and I went out with acouple of yardsticks to see. These are photographs we made.Because the scene was seriously backlit, it is difficult to tell in this photo, but Mark is standing on thebridge deck with the yardsticks, one on top of their other, representing the three foot deck raising andan approximation of a knee wall on the bridge deck. A knee wall would probably be
more
than threefeet tall. But the photo does provide a sense of scale and shows where Mark is on the bridge.
 
- 2 -In this photo, you can see better what raising the top of the bridge six feet would look like. Again, theactual knee wall would probably be taller than the three feet approximated.For both of these photos, I was standing on the east bank on the concrete and ston
e “M&M
cookie
abutment. The camera was at eye level. From the creek level itself, the bridge would appeardramatically taller.In the photograph above, Mark is kneeling at the east end of the bridge. I am about in the middle of thebridge. The camera is fixed with the lens axis height at three feet, the same as the top of the yardstick.
So, we have a crude surveyor’s transit. If we assume
that the bridge deck is level, and it seems to be,everything above the top of the yardstick is above the grade of the proposed bridge, and everythingunder it is below that grade, including the terminus of Minnehaha Avenue. There would have to besubstantial modification of the grade of the approach to the bridge, and to Minnehaha Avenue, if theproposed bridge is built.
 
- 3 -This is similar to the prior photograph, only this one looks west. Again, everything above the end of theyardstick is above the proposed bridge deck grade, and below it is below. You can see that substantialmodification of this approach to the bridge would also
be required. Moreover, since the creek isn’t going
anywhere, it would also create a steeper embankment, making it difficult or impossible to look at thecreek as you drove by, or rode by on your bicycle, and perhaps creating a safety hazard for pedestrianson the new sidewalk as well. Would it require a guardrail?In this last photograph, the two yardsticks are again end-to-end to approximate the top of a knee wallon the side of the bridge. And, at the risk of repeating myself, an actual knee wall would probably behigher than this. I am not a surveyor, and our instruments are crude, but it appears to me that the top of a three foot knee wall would be at about the grade of the terminus of Park Place, at least as it currentlyexists.

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