Winona bridge project looking at $30 million overrun
WINONA — The cost to reconstruct and refurbish the bridge that carries traffic across the Mississippi River at Winona likely will jump about $30 million, according to a new estimate by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The original bid on the project was $142 million, which included $80 million for the construction of a new two-lane bridge immediately upstream of the original bridge and $45 million for the construction costs on the old bridge. The remaining $17 million was the engineering fees on the total project, said Terry Ward, project manager for MnDOT.
Because of the cost changes — an increase of about 21 percent of the overall budget — MnDOT has, for the moment, put a hold on the reconstruction plans for the old bridge, which was not due to start until later this fall after the construction of the new bridge is finished.
"We have a couple of months to study potential strategic options or course corrections regarding the existing bridge without delaying the overall project," Ward said.
MnDOT will use the time to figure out where the additional money might come from.
"They could be all state dollars or a mixture of state and federal dollars based on how our finance staff are best able to balance the funding for all projects," Ward said.
Stephen Sarvi, city manager for Winona, said none of the new funds will come from either the city or the county. The project was presented to Winona with a minimal investment from the city. That amount, less than $500,000, is all the city is required to pay for the project.
During a recent council meeting, the Winona City Council reiterated its support of the project, Sarvi said.
The increase was due mainly to the accelerated deterioration of the through trusses on the original bridge. Those supports have deteriorated at a rate faster than expected when the project was originally surveyed.
According to the MnDOT update on the project, the extent of "moderate deterioration" went from 75 percent to 0 percent. Meanwhile, the "extensive deterioration" jumped from 25 percent to 85 percent.
The cost increase essentially would be split between $20 million in construction costs and an additional $10 for engineering. Ward said most of the $20 million for construction on the old bridge is due to the accelerated deterioration of the through trusses. A change in the load analysis methodology for this type of bridge is another part of the increase. The need for internal redundancies — if a load-bearing item has a critical failure, another support structure must be available to pick up the load — also has changed since the original estimates on the project.
Finally, the cost of steel has risen, amounting to $2.5 million of the change in the project's price, according to MnDOT.
"The new bridge was budgeted at approximately $80 million," Ward said. "We're essentially on budget for that."
When the entire project is finished — if MnDOT resumes the project as planned — there will be four lanes of traffic crossing the Mississippi from Winona to Wisconsin at Minnesota Highway 43. Traffic projections show the bridge will need to be four lanes in about 20 years, though two lanes is sufficient for now.
"The reason to do it now instead of waiting, is to keep traffic flowing across at Winona," Ward said.
"The estimated cost of a temporary bridge was $30.7 million," Ward said.
Instead of spend money on a temporary bridge, he said, state and local officials decided to use that money now to build an additional two lanes and refurbish the old bridge.