The existing Lafayette Bridge was constructed during the 1960s and opened to traffic in 1968. The main river span of the bridge is fracture critical. A fracture critical bridge is one that does not contain any redundant supporting elements. This does not mean that the existing Lafayette bridge is inherently unsafe, only that there is a lack of redundancy in the design.
The Lafayette bridge currently undergoes an in-depth, annual bridge inspection using special procedures for inspecting fracture critical bridges. A consultant inspection in 2007 reported the overall condition of the structure as fair, with only minor repairs and spot painting recommended. This work was done in 2008. The annual Mn/DOT inspections also report the overall condition of the bridge as fair, and that the bridge is satisfactory for public use. The most recent inspection was carried out in September 2010 and found no significant problems. While the Lafayette Bridge is a safe structure to use, it is nearing the end of its designed life. The bridge’s age and current condition are driving the planned replacement.
- The north and south abutments and all thirteen new piers for the new northbound bridge are completed.
- Northbound Hwy 52 is paved between Plato Boulevard to within 400 feet of the abutment for the new northbound bridge. The new bypass from these new lanes to the existing bridge is finished and open to traffic.
- Work on the Concord Street, Eaton Street and Plato Boulevard bridges is complete. Work on Hwy 52 south of Plato Boulevard is complete and re-opened to two lanes.
- Storm water sewer work is finished on both sides of the river, except for Loop A (northbound Hwy 52 to westbound I-94) and building the south and north retention ponds.
- The north end of the new exit from Hwy 52 to 7th Street is paved is open. This exit provides access to parking lots for Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the state Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Department of Human Services buildings.