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Carleton Announces Plan for Waterford Bridge

May 19, 2008

Carleton College, along with Waterford Township, has announced a plan for the replacement of the “Iron Bridge,” located over the Cannon River on Canada Avenue in Waterford. The single-lane bridge is number one on the State of Minnesota’s deficient bridge list and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) has placed a high priority on its replacement.

While currently safe and frequently inspected, the Iron Bridge will not be considered safe much longer. Additionally, the current bridge is not wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles nor is it rated for ambulance or fire vehicle use.

Since 2004, members of the College community along with officials in Waterford have discussed the best approach for providing a safe and environmentally responsible crossing of the Cannon River at the site of the bridge. Outside assistance was also solicited by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Due to various engineering and design constraints, a replacement bridge cannot be built on the current site. Waterford Township and representatives from Dakota County have proposed that a new location be slightly upstream on land owned by Carleton and located in the Cowling Arboretum.

After a careful analysis of the proposal, Carleton has agreed to donate a transportation easement to Waterford Township, granting permission to build and maintain the bridge on about two acres of Carleton land. A construction easement will also grant temporary use of additional land to facilitate the building of the bridge.

As part of the new bridge construction, Waterford Township has agreed to develop a formal boat launch for canoe and kayak use. Carleton plans to transfer ownership of the land at the future boat landing area to the DNR for long-term maintenance, if so required by the DNR.

Engineering work on the new bridge site is expected to be complete by July 2008, with construction beginning in the fall of 2008 or in 2009, pending successful permit application and funding availability

As long as it continues to pass safety inspections, the existing Iron Bridge will remain in place to allow for river crossing until the new bridge is completed. Once the new bridge is in place, the Iron Bridge will be closed for public use pending future proposed redevelopment as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing.

For more information, please contact Nancy Braker, Director of the Cowling Arboretum, at (507) 222-4543. To learn more about the planning process and details of the bridge construction project, visit the Arboretum website at