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Bridge work to close Highway 197

BEMIDJI - The intersection of Highway 197 at First Avenue in Bemidji will be closed to vehicle traffic from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday for installation of the main span of the Paul Bunyan State Trail Bridge.

The planned closure will be weather dependent. If the installation is delayed, the closure will occur as soon as conditions are suitable. A signed detour through the South Shore development from First Street to Highway 197 will be in place for highway traffic, and for east- and west-bound traffic on First Avenue, according to a news release issued Thursday.

"The closure will be brief and we anticipate few traffic delays due to the overnight construction," said Tony Walzer, the Department of Natural Resource's Northwest Region Parks and Trails acquisition and development specialist, said in the news release.

Once completed, the steel truss bridge over Highway 197 (Bemidji Avenue and Paul Bunyan Drive) will provide 2,740 feet of trail with bituminous surfacing for bicycle, pedestrian and snowmobile trail use connecting the existing trail system.

The bridge will include a 12-foot walkway with a concrete deck, handrails, and decorative abutments and piers with architectural details to match the bridge over the Mississippi River. It also will have a 54-square foot trail logo/sign of Paul Bunyan at the bridge midpoint on both sides.

When completed, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will stretch about 120 miles from Crow Wing State Park south of Brainerd/Baxter to Lake Bemidji State Park.

The Paul Bunyan State Trail is the longest continuously paved trail in the Minnesota State Trail system and one of the longest in the United States.

The $1.75 million project was funded by the 2011 legislative session through bonding. It is a cooperative effort among the DNR, city of Bemidji, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Ottertail Power Company.