Top 10, No. 2: New bridge is well on its way

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Are you one of the 13,300 whose life has been impacted daily by the beginning of the new Red Wing Bridge construction this year? Well buckle in, because this bridge is getting ready for a fresh face.

With the main focus on replacing the Highway 63 Bridge over the Mississippi River and Highway 61, along with realigning the approach roadways, the new bridge will serve as the foundation of crossing the Minnesota and Wisconsin border in the region. The next closest crossing is about 25 miles away in Hastings.

The bridge is 1,631 feet long, 35 feet wide and stands 65 feet above the Mississippi River. Made of steel truss through-deck, the Eisenhower Bridge, named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who opened the bridge in November 1960, will soon be replaced by wider, safer and easier one on which to travel.

Trying to guess the price tag of a project like this? Construction cost is $63.4 million, with the established funding from Minnesota Legislature for certain types of bridges around the state to be replaced or rehabilitated after the Interstate 35W Bridge collapse a decade ago.

"In the big picture, construction has gone extremely well in terms of bridge construction, our overriding goal is to keep the foundations up and out of the river before flooding next spring," said Terry Ward, Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager. "We're well on our way in doing that."

Did you know: only Minnesota and Wisconsin state legislatures can officially approve a bridge name. Technically, the new name doesn't have a name yet. The project is referred to as the Red Wing Bridge project.

Now that winter is upon us, rest assured that the bridge will have little impact on your commute, noted Ward.

Looking ahead to 2018, some big changes are in store.

"Early April we're going to open up the buttonhook and we're going to close down the slip ramps," Ward said. "If that affects business or local residence they can certainly give me a call. That will be the biggest traffic change."

For more information, and to stay up to date on the construction of the new bridge, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/redwing-bridge.