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Engineering, artwork and history combine in the new Dale Street Bridge

With its artistic amenities and structural components, the recently completed Dale Street Bridge over I-94 is like no other in the Twin Cities.

Visually, it stands out because it features artwork that honors the legacy of the predominately African-American Rondo Street neighborhood displaced by the freeway over 60 years ago.

Structurally, it features seventeen 30MH (high strength) prestressed concrete beams to support the deck and road; one of the first bridges in the state of Minnesota to incorporate this type of beam in a structure.

TKDA was hired by Ramsey County to design the bridge, and combined a unique blending of art, engineering and enthusiastic neighborhood input to create a structure with vastly improved geometrics and one that represents Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood of the past, present and future.

The bridge is more than twice the width of the original. The geometrics feature four 11-foot traffic lanes; left turn lanes; 16-foot walkways and 4-foot shoulders. Pedestrians will be secluded from vehicular traffic by a low-profile barrier that does not interfere with vehicular site distance.

Drivers and pedestrians alike will appreciate both the sheer size of the new bridge and the works of art that run from one end to the other. Among them are insets on the yellow and green acrylic railings; large scale tree sculptures at each end of the bridge representing the neighborhood’s towering Oak trees; outlines of the homes common to the neighborhood and poems about Rondo etched into the concrete; and maps of the original Rondo neighborhood etched into the concrete abutments.

With all the art components on this bridge and the plaza like pedestrian path, it could be said it is as much as a destination as it is an important vehicular and pedestrian crossing over a busy freeway.

In August, Ramsey County officials, the engineers, designers, artists, and community members who contributed to the project, gathered and celebrated the official opening of this special bridge that honors what the Rondo neighborhood was, and what it will be.

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