Aug 30, 2023 - Culture

Twin Cities consultant solves the "mystery" behind a 494 pedestrian bridge

A photo of a blue bridge that goes over a highwayl.

The Bloomfield Bridge. Photo: Tyler Vigen

The Bloomfield Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over Highway 494 just west of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, seemingly had no purpose to Tyler Vigen, other than connecting a Taco Bell to a Grainger Industrial Supply.

  • But when a little digging online yielded no answers as to why it was built, Vigen, a Bloomington resident and partner at a local management consulting firm, set out on a mission to learn the story behind the project.
  • "Up until this point, it was curiosity. From here on out though, it is stubbornness," he wrote in his investigation.

What he did: After many fruitless interviews with city and state officials, Vigen dug through seemingly every tangentially related historical document in the state, including federal archives, city minutes, and a "surprisingly useful" history report written by a 9th grader in 1951.

  • He manually scanned 300 miles of highways to look for pedestrian bridges built during the same time and tracked down people who lived near the bridge during its construction.
  • He also had to obtain permission from the FAA to fly a drone over the bridge for photos, he told Axios in an email.

Yes, and: When the journey led out of state, Vigen flew to Kansas City and became certified to handle federal documents in order to dig through public records originally housed in a bunker under a field in western Missouri β€” only to find the project file was missing.

  • Vigen told Axios he estimated that he spent 90-100 hours on the project over the course of eight weeks and around $600, not including travel.

Spoiler alert: After digging through public records for weeks and crossing state lines, Vigen found the answer β€” it was built to connect a school and church β€” in a Minneapolis Star article available online.


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