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Brains over beauty

Months before its projected opening date, the 35W bridge might be opening as soon as this week. And while many are applauding the bridge's quick turn-around time, not so many are as excited about its aesthetics.

According to the Star Tribune, government officials chose to go for a bridge design that was practical.

Government officials opted for practicality over pretension. "The first goal was to have a bridge that was safe and effective," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said. (Star Tribune)

But city officials also claimed that the bridge's current design helps to keep things simple.

"It doesn't stick out like a sore thumb," said Ann Calvert to the Star Tribune. Calvert is a Minneapolis city official that was part of the visual design advisory panel. "This new bridge could have been something wildly dramatic, but it also might have distracted from some of the historic and interesting features in the area," she said.

But more importantly, is the fact that despite the bridge's simplicity, it's got brains. And taking into consideration the criticisms against the department's management of the old bridge, this is good news.

The Pioneer Press reported Saturday that the $234 million bridge is rigged with sensors that will be keeping track of the bridge's performance. This means that once cars start crossing the bridge, various gauges and meters will be able to give engineers important measurements such as concrete quality, chemical levels, and movement in the bridge's joints and bearings on a daily basis. Before the use of this technology, all of this was measured by hand once every two years.

All of this information will be sent to MnDot and the University of Minnesota through fiber-optic cables to be analyzed.

This technology, which is not in widespread use, will ultimately help in the management and upkeep of the newly built bridge.