The project consisted of the rehabilitation of 603-foot steel through truss bridge constructed in 1928. The project’s primary purpose was to study the bridge and determine whether it could be preserved or needed to be replaced. After completion of an in-depth condition analysis, our team found that rather than replace the bridge, it was feasible for the historic bridge to be rehabilitated, saving nearly $24-million. We worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT), North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission and the Cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks to ensure project objectives were achieved.


KLJ developed a rehabilitation plan that addressed deficiencies while preserving the historic integrity of the existing bridge. This consisted of repairing and replacing damaged steel and concrete, coordinating paint colors for the steel and concrete to prime and re-paint the entire bridge, seal cracks in the concrete abutments and piers, and remove old utilities from the bridge. Crossing the bridge was also made safer for vehicles and pedestrians after non-functioning decorative lighting was removed and replaced with a new, color changing LED decorative lighting system. All of this was completed while keeping at least one lane of the bridge open to the traveling public at all times.



KLJ successfully rehabilitated the 83-year-old bridge by making minor structural repairs, repainting the bridge and installing a new LED lighting system. The addition of the LED lights allows the historic bridge to celebrate various holidays and events with color changing bulbs. The legacy of North Dakota Governor Sorlie can now be seen in beautiful lights by citizens traversing across the bridge at night.

In 2016, Sorlie Memorial Bridge was selected as a top 12 finalist for America’s Transportation Awards. The award, recognizes state transportation projects that deliver value to communities. These awards are categorized in three areas: Quality of Life/Community Development, Best Use of Innovation and Under Budget. The Sorlie Bridge was nominated and recognized in the Under-Budget category

In 2017, Sorlie Memorial Bridge received The American Council of Engineering Companies of North Dakota award in Category C – Structural Systems. Projects are judged based on their uniqueness and/or innovative application of new or existing techniques; future value to the engineering profession and perception by the public; social, economic, and sustainable development considerations; complexity; and successful fulfillment of client and owner’s needs, including schedule and budget.

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