The city has doubled the money it will spend to rebuild the historic Minisa Bridge that carries 13th Street traffic over the Little Arkansas River. But it will probably be 2008 before the facelift begins and Riverside drivers are forced to detour around the heavily traveled bridge. That’s because the city is trying to make sure North High School is on summer break at least part of the time the bridge is closed. And it’s expected to close for six months. During that time, most traffic will be re-routed to 21st Street. Neighborhood traffic will take a shorter cut over the N. Bitting Avenue bridge.
Since it takes more than a month to get state approval and let bids for the construction, the city can’t get it started this summer. The Feds will still pay $1 million, but the city has increased their budget from $800,000 to $1.6 million due to the rapidly rising cost of construction. That, the city is hoping, will lock a price in and prevent them from raising the budget for the bridge even more. The city’s long-term capital budget is already getting squeezed and this will just add to that, reducing the number of capital improvement projects they can handle in coming years. Once the bridge is complete, it will have all the historic features it has today — minus the cracks in the pillars and potholes in the red brick surface. The Minisa Bridge was built in 1932.