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Damaged bridge to have higher clearance

BEMIDJI - A bridge that was struck earlier this month by a semitrailer passing under it will have a higher clearance once repairs are completed next summer.

TJ Melcher, spokesman for the local district of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the beams underneath the 15th Street bridge over U.S. Highway 2 will be adjusted for more height. Those beams were damaged when a semi with not enough clearance struck them July 13.

"They're going to reduce the height of those I-beams," Melcher said. "They're not raising the bridge."

That will make it closer in clearance to other nearby bridges spanning the highway, which Melcher said are at least 16 feet, 2 inches. A sign on the 15th Street bridge Tuesday indicated the bridge is 15 feet, 10 inches.

While the bridge is shorter than other nearby overpasses, it's tall enough to avoid a law mandating height signage. According to Melcher, a bridge shorter than 14 feet, 6 inches requires low clearance signs be posted.

"Actually right now, they don't need to have a sign posted," Melcher said. He explained, however, that MnDOT is trying to prevent another accident while the bridge is already damaged.

As of July 22, the bridge was expected to be reopened to traffic within two weeks.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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