For at least the fifth time in Juneau’s history, a new bridge spans the Mendenhall River. The Brotherhood Bridge was rededicated on Saturday morning after construction wrapped up earlier this month.
The Brotherhood Bridge — a 50-year old, two-lane bridge — was replaced during the course of about a year and a half with the new four-lane bridge bearing the same name. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities replaced the bridge in anticipation of increased traffic to the Auke Bay area. The bridge was also showing signs of wear, according to DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow.
“Here in Alaska, it’s not really wear and tear from use that we see,” he said, noting that bridges in this state typically don’t see the volume of traffic that bridges in the Lower 48 might. “It’s wear and tear from the environment they exist in.”
The new Brotherhood Bridge is expected to last for 75 years, Woodrow said.
All told, this iteration of the bridge cost about $40 million to complete, which was quite a bit more than its predecessors, according to the DOT. The first bridge built over the river was constructed in 1903 and cost $700. The original Brotherhood Bridge, which was completed in 1965, cost about $800,000, the Empire previously reported.
Ever since the completion of the original Brotherhood Bridge five decades ago, the bridge has held an important cultural distinction that its predecessors didn’t: it stands as a symbol honoring Alaska Native history, Woodrow said. He said that the DOT spend “a lot of time and effort” to restore the historic aspects of the bridge, including 10 bronze medallions depicting the crest of the Alaska Native Brotherhood.
“We really wanted to make sure at the end of the day that we didn’t only make an important piece for transportation, but that we could carry that history formed for the people of Juneau,” Woodrow said.