The Minnesota Department of Transportation is accepting Letters of Interest until Aug. 31 from city, county and state agencies looking to purchase the historic Kern Bridge, a 189-foot single-span bowstring arch bridge built in 1873. Final applications are due by Sept. 30.

The Kern Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Minnesota and is made from wrought iron, a rare type of bridge material. It is the only bow-string arch bridge in Minnesota and is the longest of its type in the nation. MnDOT partnered with Blue Earth County to save the bridge, carefully dismantling it and loading it into sealed containers.

“The Kern Bridge would be an attractive addition to a bike and pedestrian trail,” said Katie Haun Schuring, MnDOT historian who serves on the selection task force. “While our main goal is to see the bridge reused and for many people to experience this unique structure, it would be ideal if the bridge could be in a similar setting to its historic one—over water.”

New owners will be required to provide a 20 percent match toward the rehabilitation and relist the Kern Bridge on the National Register of Historic places following completion of the rehabilitation effort. Federal funds are available to cover 80 percent of the cost. Preliminary estimates of the total cost are around $1.5 million. All Federal Highway Administration and MnDOT rules and requirements must be followed.

The application, due Sept. 30, is similar to the Transportation Alternatives method under the Area Transportation Partnership that selects projects for federal transportation dollars. Cities fewer than 5,000 in population must have a county sponsorship.

More information including photos, video, background and a Structural Analysis & Bridge Load Rating Report along with the forms and requirements are posted at and Interested agencies can contact District State Aid Engineer Lisa Bigham at 507-351-2563, [email protected] or Katie Haun Schuring at 651-366-3603, [email protected]