Construction of ‘Birkie' Bridge starts downtown transformation for Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is starting to take shape in downtown Minneapolis.

Crews are building the American Birkebeiner International Bridge. It's just one of the many features for the 10-day Super Bowl LIVE festival on Nicollet Mall.

Putting the nearly 200-foot bridge in place along Nicollet Mall is a delicate dance.

“Little nervous,” said Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski. “I mean anytime you bring in your little baby from northern Wisconsin to downtown Minneapolis, it’s a little nervous, but also exciting to see it come to life.”

The bridge is used in the 35-mile cross county “Birkie” ski race in Hayward, Wisconsin. The race organizers are loaning it for the Super Bowl festivities. This week, a dozen trucks transported the bridge, marking the first time it has ever left Hayward. Constructing the bridge in downtown Minneapolis creates new challenges.

“There are things like stoplights, sidewalks,” said Popp. “These pieces, each are 5,000 or 6,000 pounds some of them 50 to 60 feet long, so to try and maneuver those in these really tight spaces it takes a really fine touch.”

It’s all orchestrated by the very team, Trussworks, which originally built the bridge. Starting construction early Saturday morning, they battled bitter cold for hours.

“All along we’ve talked about embracing the ‘Bold North’ and it seems the weather is going to help us do that,” said Andrea Mokros, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.

Once fully constructed and covered in snow, the Birkie Bridge will be a showcase of skiing, skijoring and more as traffic drives below on 9th Street.

“It’s exciting to see the Super Bowl take shape and again just three weeks from now the game will be here and then we’re back to normal,” said Mokros.

The bridge will be completed this weekend. Next week, it will take twelve dump trucks of snow to cover the bridge with one foot of snow.

Even more features for the Super Bowl will arrive on Monday as crews will install the Super Bowl LIVE concert stage.