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Flooding delays Winona interstate bridge project

WINONA — Flooding has delayed the start of construction of the Minnesota Highway 43 bridge over the Mississippi River at Winona. But, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager Terry Ward, the $175 million project remains ahead of schedule.

The Mississippi River is currently flowing more than two feet above flood stage, which has prevented MnDOT from building a temporary river access and sending divers into the river, Ward said. He expects the delay to be about two weeks, if the weather cooperates.

MnDOT had initially targeted construction on the interstate bridge to begin between July 2014 and March 2015. It's expected to wrap up in late 2019 or early 2020. MnDOT will construct a new two-lane bridge over the river to handle traffic while the old bridge is rehabilitated. Eventually, both structures will handle traffic back and forth across the river.

"We were actually on pace to start in June, but we can't get out there until the river comes down," Ward said. "Right now, it won't be any sooner than roughly two weeks from now.

"According to plans, we're still doing extremely well. In the big scheme of things, we're actually still ahead of schedule — which doesn't happen very often."


MnDOT isn't standing idle during the flooding delay. It announced the acquisition of the Dahl Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealership in downtown Winona for $2.6 million. It's the biggest right-of-way purchase to date for the bridge project.

Ward said the purchase means MnDOT is "approaching 50 percent" of the 22 commercial and residential properties it must acquire to complete the bridge project. The target deadline is Jan. 1, 2015.

The local car dealership is exploring alternative site options to continue operating in Winona.

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