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Dave Olson, Published November 07 2012

Officials mark opening of new lift bridge between Fargo and Moorhead

FARGO – The newly opened lift bridge linking Fargo’s Lindenwood Park and Gooseberry Park in Moorhead was touted by officials from both cities Wednesday as a symbol of how the communities work together.

“This is a dream we’ve had for years and years,” Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said, referring to the bridge’s lift system, which will allow it to be raised out of harm’s way in times of high water.

The old span, which had stood for decades, had to be lifted onto stilts by a crane in the fall and lowered the same way in the spring, a process that could take days, depending on conditions.

When the new bridge has all of its parts in place, including two lift towers that will be installed in December, it can be hoisted to a safe height within minutes, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

Voxland said in the past it could be late May before the bridge was useable, and if there was major flooding, the opening could be pushed back to late June.

The approximately $1 million in funding the bridge required was made possible by a partnership between the two cities, the Fargo Park District and the North Dakota and Minnesota departments of transportation.

“Solutions are awfully expensive. The answer to that is to have collaboration with different agencies, and that’s what we had with this facility,” Walaker said.

“This is one of the gems for both of our cities,” he added.

Joel Vettel, president of the Fargo Park Board, agreed.

“It (the bridge) really is a symbol of the collaborative efforts that we make in this community each and every day,” he said.

The bridge will be closed from early December to about Christmas to allow for construction of two towers about 40 feet high.

The towers will house electronic wenches that will be used to hoist the bridge skyward when necessary.

“Is this going to be able to withstand flooding? It will,” said Jeremy Gorden, Fargo traffic engineer.

“This is Fargo’s version of the Duluth-Superior lift bridge,” he added. “I think it’s going to be an outstanding finished product.”

Fargo and Moorhead have plans to build an identical bridge between Oak Grove Park in Fargo and Moorhead’s Memorial Park.

Gorden said construction will have to wait until funding is secured, which could take four to five years at the earliest, he said.

Lindenwood/Gooseberry bridge

Type: Electronic lift steel truss bridge with wood-plank deck and hoists on each end.

Cost: About $1 million

Life: 50-75 years

Length: 168 feet

Height: Deck can be lifted to about 45 feet (500-year flood level)

Time it takes to lift bridge: 10-15 minutes

Traffic: About 1,300 people use the bridge every day in the summer time.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555