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MnDOT assesses damage after semi hits Bemidji bridge

MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER A semi-trailer hauling heavy machinery clipped and heavily damage two cement support beams Saturday on the 15th Street Bridge that spans U.S. Highway 2, closing the bridge until it can repaired, officials said.

BEMIDJI - A bridge spanning U.S. Highway 2 remained closed Monday after a semi carrying heavy equipment struck several beams Saturday.

And as of early Monday afternoon, it was unclear when traffic would be allowed to cross the 15th Street bridge again.

Craig Collison, the Minnesota Department of Transportation district engineer, said a team in St. Paul is examining the bridge's capacity "to determine if we can open it up to traffic." He said four of the six beams on the underside of the bridge were struck, and at least one will have to be replaced.

Collison said depending on the load capacity of the undamaged beams, traffic could be moved to the north side of the bridge.

"We're going to first look at that because we'd like to get it opened to local traffic," he said.

Collison said the 15th Street bridge is slightly lower than other nearby bridges. But, he added, it's high enough that MnDOT isn't required to notify drivers of its height.

"That bridge has more than legal clearance underneath it," Collison said. "But people sometimes have overhead loads that are higher than they think they are."

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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