Cracks Found On Sabo Bridge In Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis City Council got an update on the Sabo Pedestrian Bridge Tuesday morning, which revealed cracking was found in certain areas.

The Deputy Director of Public Works said it’ll be a month or so before it’s determined why a diaphram plate failed on that bridge last week.

Part of Hiawatha Avenue was closed while workers shored up the bridge and made sure it was safe. The Light Rail line was also stopped in the area.

Heidi Hamilton said a failed diaphram plate from the bridge was found on the ground with the cables still connected to it.

It’s now been sent off to a university for analysis.

She said some cracking was found on other diaphram plates, too.

“Certainly, we are looking carefully at the other diaphram plates,” she said. “It is concerning to us as well that there were problems found in other diaphram plates. Calculations were run, even if No. 5 were to fail, the shoring that we have in place would hold the bridge.”

Hamilton said at this point it does not appear that the whole bridge is bad.

She said it looks like some sort of a retrofit can be used to fix it.

  • Common Cents

    Maybe they should stop driving cop cars and ambulances over a pedestrain bridge!!!

    • See BS

      Perhaps they should have designed it for emergency cars — instead of making it all artsy fartsy looking bridge.

      Maybe we can call it the Artsy Fartsy bridge – and the police will remember not to drive on it.

    • MN Bridge Failures!!

      If this is the case, the tab should come out of the budge the Minneapolis Police Department! Otherwise, they’ll barely get a slap on the wrist and will continue to do it again!

      • MN Bridge Failures!

        excuse me, “budget of Minneapolis Police Department.

        • Tom

          @ MN Bridge Failures!

          If that’s the case, the taxpayer should not have to flip the bill. BTW… isn’t this bridge under warranty?

  • albert

    Exactly! They should find the people who responded to the drunk on the bridge in squad cars and an ambulance

  • Swamp Rat

    Surprise folks! “Common Sense” and “Albert” may have found the answer to this bridge’s problems. The bridge was not designed for multiple use heavy vehicular traffic. One occasional cop crossing infrequently is okay but many multiple crossings by multiple vehicles is a bit much.

    Whoever designed this bridge should have thought of this emergency usage. Looks like a whole bridge redesign and remodeling effort is the answer of the day. Guess who pays for this problem?…….. I’ve got two-cents to donate? [LOL!]

    • The Truth

      Umm, they DID think of this – the bridge was designed for a 20 ton maximum load.

      It’s amazing how many misinformed people shoot their mouths off here.

      • Swamp Rat

        @the truth???
        I read the Bath[UK] report aforementioned in a posting here. Sorry, chum, but this bridge was not built to that max gvwr[20Tons] otherwise the cables wouldn’t have failed and snapped. Read the report. The report didn’t truly take in MN weather and the MN bridge weight restrictions on this low bid project.

        • No Cool Name

          Looks like a good undergrad effort.

      • Common Cents

        Apparently not or else it would not have failed… duh!

        I don’t think big momma crossin with a big mac and diet coke cracked it.

  • Yep

    Well if a walking bridge will not hold a cop car and an ambulance in the first place without cracking that is a bridge I don’t want to cross. Guessing it was buillt by the lowest bidder who used the cheapest materials possible…

    • Get serious

      If a bridge is so under-engineered as to have issue with an ambulance and a police car you have a defective bridge. They are always over – engineered for a reason – one never knows the future loads placed on the, nor if in an emergency they may not be required to have emergency vehicles on them. Also repair vehicles.
      I assume…maybe I should not … that you realize what the weight of a 2′ wet snowfall is like? Try several dump trucks loaded – all on this bridge. It’s designed to handle it ….
      It seems however it was not built well.
      Michigan Tech Grad,,,2008

      • Common Cents

        Well, if it wasn’t built to the design specs, wouldn’t the inspectors have caught that before opening it to the public?

        • Swamp Rat

          Inspections don’t catch every minuscule design fall. I guess all concerned didn’t Murphy’s Law into consideration. That’s what you get with lo-bid work.

  • Lagerhops

    At least Sabo got a dimestore bridge, my only monument will be a headstone. Ozymandias

    by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
    I met a traveler from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    • Swamp Rat

      Classy Comment for a ‘CCO blog thread! Where’s the Horace Smith version as well to add to the ambiance of the moment? This sonnet is certainly fitting for today’s thoughts to to ponder. Thanks Lagerhops.

      • Lagerhops

        Its dark beauty is apparent and is relevance is frightening. Now forThe History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire…
        Though not in itself a cause, a rotting infrastructure is often accepted as a primary symptom of a declining civilization.

        • Swamp Rat

          How classically appropriate for today’s Minnesota political issues and infrastructure failures. Too bid the low bid builder of the bridge in question didn’t read Shelley first then Frank Loyd Wright. Oh such is Minnesota and its laughing waters….

    • Lagerhops

      Oops. Ozymandias is the name of the poem, not the author of the first line.


    YUP…Lowest bidder+ chinese steel+ ugly design + wrong name = dont add up

  • pork chop

    you can drive a police car or ambulance across this bridge as often as needed.

    It is very unlikely that this would damage the bridge, just think of the concrete and steal in place.

    there is a design flaw or a material failure or both

    • Swamp Rat

      @poork chop
      You darn tootin’ there is a design flaw or too. How it doesn’t take a fine arts degree or rocket science that this bridge was “under-designed” for use by motorized vehicles. Simple higher math can tell us that. Now, don’t forget that this structure was low bid and not made to innovative engineering specs plus 100+ years lifetime expectancy. The bridge needs renovation and brought up to design+ specifications. The last thing Minneapolis needs is another bridge collapsing.

    • trooperchix

      Have you built many bridges? I bet they don’t let any emergency vehicles on it now, being that it is so sound and safe and all..

  • BjohnsonMN

    Perhaps a more practical bridge, at a lower price, and investing the money in improving something that already existed in the city would have been a better use of money.
    If the builder does not pay for any failure in design or construction, then the city should have to pay for it in City money, not funds that are received through municipal welfare paid by those of us who live in more responsible parts for the 7 county area.

    • trooperchix

      A bridge was needed in that area. I have lived there, and without it, the city is in effect cut in half for pedestrians and bike traffic. That very traffic would otherwise be routed on Lake street through the Hiawatha bridge area. That spot is scary to drive through in a car let alone walk through. For safety reasons, it needed to be there. It goes over an industrial complex, Hiawatha Avenue and is a very dark and rather unsavory part of the area. It left the area open for further development. Had that bridge not gone in where it did, a space for it would never have been saved. Besides, it replaced a rickety scary old pedestrian bridge.

  • Becky

    It may be due to the vibrations coming from the LRT. A resonant frequency is all that’s needed.

    Yet another reason to despise LRT.

    • No Cool Name

      You’re right! I hate everything that vibrates!

    • Swamp Rat

      Good point about LRT harmonic resonant frequency issues. The bridge should have had these specifics acknowledge in its design. But what do we expect from a low bid operation with modern suspension designs? Think about this!

  • _W_

    According to a 2009 study of the Sabo Bridge by Engineering students at the University of Bath, the bridge should have been easily able to hold the weight of a police car on the bridge. From the report:

    “Due to the fact that the Sabo Bridge does not have any restrictive barriers at its ends, there is a possibility for accidental vehicle loading. The bridge is therefore designed to withstand the nominal wheel loads exerted on the deck.” (p. 5)

    Figure 12: “HB live loading on a pedestrian bridge” then goes on to show the maximum loading expected from a four wheeled vehicle. If his numbers are correct, then my calculations show that the Sabo bridge should have been able to hold a police car. Here are my figures, adapted from Figure 12:

    (75 kN ~ 16,000 lb) x 4 wheels ~ 64,000 lb

    A police car probably weighs about 4,000 – 6,000 lb.


    J. J. Leverett, A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE MARTIN OLAV SABO BRIDGE, MINNEOSOTA. Proceedings of Bridge Engineering 2 Conference 2009 April 2009, University of Bath, Bath, UK

    • Swamp Rat

      Points well said but you failed to mention Paragraph/Section 10–FUTURE CHANGES. It mentions that the bridge is “primarily” a pedestrian bridge. The bridge can handle the occasionally vehicle crossing but that’s not the bridges purpose. Also, if vehicles were to use the bridge then deck modifications and other engineering changes would be advised and be expensive to implement.

      Now after reading the Bath Engineering Report on this bridge and perusing the calculations I surmise that if this bridge was made to specifications then some structural failures would/could result.[IE–cables snapping etc.]

      Your calculations have merit but like vehicular traffic on frozen ice there are physical forces at work that must be addressed. [A moving vehicle creates a moving wave stress or resonance pattern on the bridge deck. Ponder that!

      Regardless, snapping bridge cables mean somethings amiss. Just fixing the bridge will not suffice until the problem is well defined. Don’t you agree?

  • _W_

    I wonder if there is security camera footage of the cable falling?

    According to a 2009 study of the Sabo Bridge by Engineering students at the University of Bath, there are security cameras around the bridge for identifying vandals. From the report:

    “To accomplish this, a comprehensive security system was established around the bridge. A collection of security cameras were installed to catch vandals on film.” (p. 10)


    J. J. Leverett, A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE MARTIN OLAV SABO BRIDGE, MINNEOSOTA. Proceedings of Bridge Engineering 2 Conference 2009 April 2009, University of Bath, Bath, UK

  • JWarren

    how is it that bridges like the stone arch have been around since 1883 and had some problems but nothing sever but newer bridges like the 35w and now the Sabo bridge are falling apart? i think the cables should all be removed it looks gaudy and ugly…just like the windows on Riverside Apts.

    • Swamp Rat

      Remove the suspension cables then the bridge is useless and will collapse. This type of suspension bridge is the modern look of suspension bridges. Think about it!!!

  • Pete T.

    Yes Amy, bridges do just fall down. Especially when dumb government class drive on them.

    • @ Patty

      right up Pete’s alley I suspect. He may have his head down one as I type

  • justis

    A tunnel would have been cheaper… and would fall down.

  • Clearly

    Probably made in China just like everything else we get.

  • Kevin


  • R III

    I wounder who got the kickbacks for using bad materials in the construction of the overpriced bridge.

  • MPAnderson

    The metal failed? It doesn’t say if they were held up by more metal,Bolts or what not, and If they were, where were they manufactured and were they pre tested? CHINA? They sell alot of junk pot metal to the US that is so granulated in structure that they break….( you get what you pay for) and since most work goes to cheapest bidder and they want a good profit and some over charge for and public/ Govt contracts, it stands to reason that perhaps they used inferior products, It should have been built to with stand the weight of Vehicles if it was wide enough to allow them to drive on it , or they should have put large ornamentals at the enterances to prevent anyone from driving on it.

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