As a Minot kid, I always enjoyed coming down to BisMan to take a trip across the truss bridge that was the Memorial Bridge between Bismarck and Mandan.  There was no asphalt across the roadway just a hum of the metal grating.

Time marches on and bridges get replaced.

I may not have experienced the metal grate fun of the Memorial Bridge as an adult, when I got here in 2001 it had been paved and was so much smoother...but still a terrifying two-lane if you worked in a bar as I did back in the day. Imagine leaving a drunken Mandan bar you were working at, and heading across that bridge knowing that everyone coming towards you at 1 AM had just left that same kinda drunken Bismarck bar.  I was glad to have a juggernaut of a car...if need be, I mighta just pushed you right off the bridge.

I was on-site when they blew up the Memorial Bridge and am still looking for film footage of the Bald Eagle flying over the crowd following the explosion. The four-lane Liberty Memorial Bridge is an amazing upgrade.

Currently, there's much discussion about a neighboring bridge to the north.

Clearly I'm talking about the proposed removal of the aged railroad bridge spanning the Missouri River between Bismarck and Mandan. Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad is planning to demolish the bridge and build a new one. Opposition to the plan is spearheaded by a local group known as Friends of the Rail Bridge. I would suggest clicking on that links for a fantastic aerial video of the bridge along with a compelling description of their side of the conflict.

BNSF earlier this week released a forceful statement regarding ownership of the bridge

“[Friends of the Rail Bridge] cannot cite to any case law supporting this theory that the Missouri River’s status as a navigable waterway deprived the railroad of its ownership of the Bismarck Bridge when the state of North Dakota achieved statehood on Nov. 2, 1889,” BNSF said in a statement. “On the other hand, both federal and state case law, including one federal decision that specifically mentions the Bismarck Bridge by name, explain that railroad bridges built over rivers are part of and owned by the railroad just the same as railroad bridges built over land.”

Reading about the current bridge conflict just got me thinking of the old humming grate bridge between Bismarck and Mandan. I'm also curious if FORB has a secret strategy that can hold up in court.  If not a treasured area icon is in serious jeopardy. The BNSF Bridge Replacement Project will be releasing an environmental impact statement in just a few weeks.


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