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Built in 1960, the Eisenhower Bridge is one of several state bridges scheduled for replacement or renovation. Because the bridge is the only Mississippi River crossing for 30 miles, the Minnesota Department of Transportation hopes to keep lane closures to a minimum when construction gets underway in 2018. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

MnDOT looks for input on bridge project

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation wants local feedback on plans to renovate or replace the aging Eisenhower Bridge and connected roadways in downtown Red Wing. The bridge is the only Mississippi River crossing within 30 miles of the city.

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There will be an open house for the public to review and comment on MnDOT's proposals 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Foot Room of the Red Wing Public Library. Staff will give a formal presentation 5 p.m.

Up for discussion will be whether to rehabilitate or replace the Eisenhower Bridge, which is now more than 50 years old.

The project also will address the connected Highway 63 bridge, Highway 58 and approach roadways on the Wisconsin side.

Potential options for the project have been narrowed down from a list of 11 design concepts, and MnDOT wants to hear citizens' concerns before moving ahead, Project Manager Chad Hanson said.

Although construction isn't scheduled until 2018, Hanson said preliminary design on the project will have to be completed soon. "The biggest decisions are happening in the next few months," he said.

Because the Eisenhower Bridge is the only river crossing between Prescott and Wabasha, Hanson said MnDOT is hoping to complete the project without major detours.

"We're really trying to keep traffic impacts to a minimum," Hanson said. "Obviously there will be some impact, but right now we don't anticipate shutting the bridge down completely."

Funding for the project comes from legislation passed in response to the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in 2007. The laws provide money to improve or replace bridges around the state.

The Eisenhower Bridge has been deemed "fracture critical" because of its design, meaning that it is prone to collapse if certain parts of the bridge were to fail.

But Hanson said he wants to assure motorists that the bridge does not currently pose a safety hazard, and that the structure has not been damaged.

"We just want to make sure we have a safe crossing," Hanson said. "For the long term, we need to do something."

MnDOT hopes to have a preliminary design chosen sometime next year, with the final design to be completed by 2017.

Hanson said the next step in the design process is to begin studying the environmental impact of the project.

For more information or to leave a comment, contact Project Manager Chad Hanson at 507-286-7637 or chad.hanson@state.mn.us.

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Michael Brun
Michael Brun is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program. He has worked for the Republican Eagle since March 2013, covering county government, health and local events. 
(651) 301-7875
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