College Drive Mississippi River bridge opens to alleviate traffic congestion in downtown Brainerd

Bridge Detour
A portion of the eastbound lanes on Washington Street near the bridge (where the red teardrop sits on this Google Map screenshot) is closed after Sunday night's storm washed out a portion of the sidewalk, creating a 10-feet deep hole off the bridge. Motorists are able to use the Laurel Street Bridge and one lane of traffic is open on the West College Drive Bridge.

Motorists needed a lot of patience Monday, July 15, driving on Washington Street in Brainerd as rain from after Sunday night’s storm washed out the sidewalk and closed down a section of the westbound lanes of Washington Street

The Washington Street westbound lane closings caused major traffic congestion throughout the day Monday without a lot of options for detours.

Construction also began Monday on College Drive -- closing down the College Drive Bridge -- leaving motorists only the Laurel Street Bridge to cross the Mississippi River in downtown Brainerd.

A second river crossing was opened later Monday, however.

Construction workers on College Drive reorganized their work and opened one lane of traffic to offer motorists another option to cross the river, by using the West College Drive Bridge -- in-between Kiwanis Park and Central Lakes College -- in Brainerd. However, construction will still take place, so motorists should drive with caution.


Jenny Seelen, Minnesota Department of Transportation communication specialist, Monday said this second bridge opening will offer relief for motorists. West College Drive will be open with one lane from Fifth Street South to Crow Wing County Highway 48 in Baxter.

Other options for motorists include the Mill Avenue bridge in northeast Brainerd to cross the river. When using this route, motorists take Mill Avenue to Wise Road and then to Riverside Drive to go to west Brainerd or continue on Wise Road, also knowns as County Highway 49, to get to Baxter. Motorists also may go south on South Sixth Street and take Business Highway 371 to Highway 371, going north to Baxter to get on west Brainerd.

Seelen said MnDOT is working to formulate a temporary and a permanent fix for the washout on the bridge, which created a 10-foot deep hole under the sidewalk next to the bridge. MnDOT expects the portion of Washington Street will remain closed in the westbound lanes for a few days.

“They will need to fill in underneath the lanes and the hole before the road can be opened back up,” she said.

More details on this story will be coming in Tuesday’s edition of the Brainerd Dispatch.

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