Rock Island Swing Bridge

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 26th, 2011

Older versions of the Twin Cities Bike Map showed a bridge crossing from Inver Grove Heights to Newport. It was the only bridge crossing the Mississippi River between  Downtown St. Paul and Hastings. The bridge was unique in that it was a privately owned toll bridge that carried cars on the first level and trains on the upper level.  It was in rough shape in the early days of the bike map and got progressively worse over the years. First the trains stopped running because the bridge structure couldn’t support them, then the roadway deck began crumbling and eventually the bridge was shut down.

The crossing wasn’t special in a truly functional way. It was narrow, potholed, rusty and it dropped you off at the gates of a large refinery, but there was a charm attached to crossing this relict and the toll, I think it was around 0.35 for bikes, added more than it subtracted from the experience. Equally important, when it closed down it made Newport, Grey Cloud Island and roads in that area less accessible.

Since then DOT has added a bike crossing to the Wacouta Bridge and in 2010 the old toll bridge rose from the ashes as the Inver Grove Heights Rock Island Swing Bridge Recreational Pier. The new pier juts halfway into the Mississippi River and offers great views of islands, back channels, marinas and river floodplain.

Bicyclists can access the Swing Bridge by taking the South.. St. Paul Regional Trail to 66th St, then heading toward the Mississippi River (East). The trail runs north/south along the Mississippi River from Concord St. in West St. Paul to Old Concord St. in Inver Grove Heights.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News