Winona bridge seeing 'great progress'
WINONA — Things have moved swiftly this year on the new Interstate Bridge connecting Winona with Wisconsin.
Crews from Ames Construction have constructed half of the segments that will connect the two sides of the bridge that hangs over the Mississippi River, Senior Project Manager Nick Ruba said on Wednesday. Because of the warmer than average weather this fall, crews have been able to get ahead of schedule and will continue to work on the bridge until snow and cold make it impractical.
"It's a nice fall we've had," he said. "We're making great progress."
The units of the bridge over land are finishing up nicely, Ruba said, with most of the work on Unit 2 over Latsch Island completed. Next summer most of the emphasis will be to get the final concrete segments poured over the river so the new bridge can open up for the fall of 2016.
Construction on the $150 million to $175 million bridge project began in July of last year. After the new bridge has been constructed and opened to traffic, work will begin on rehabilitating the current Interstate Bridge in Winona, with an estimated completion date of 2019 for all the work. The new bridge structure has a 100-year expected lifespan with the rehab work expected to extend the life of the older bridge by 50 years.
The current Winona bridge is considered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to be fracture-critical, meaning if any of the fracture critical members of the bridge were to fail, the entire bridge could collapse. The new bridge and rehabilitation work will increase safety for travelers, MnDOT Engineer Tory Thompson said, as well as improve traffic flow at the intersection where bridge traffic enters Winona.
It's been a good year for the project Ruba said, as crews got a lot of work done this spring on the piers. During peak construction times, nearly a 100 workers have been helping to build the new bridge. Even now, as things slow down, there are up to 50 workers on the project.
Currently, the project is $77 million into its budget and is about 58 percent complete, Ruba said. The new bridge will be 2,295 feet long, with 450 of those feet over the river.
The project is a first for MnDOT using a new delivery method where the department works more closely with the contractor throughout the design and construction process.
"The project is just going very well," Ruba said. "We have a good working relationship with MnDOT."