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Column: Red Wing Bridge project gaining momentum

Terry Ward

Terry Ward is the Minnesota Department of Transportation construction project manager for the Red Wing Bridge project. He can be reached at 507-421-5318 or

As we prepared for the construction phase of the Red Wing Bridge, you heard a lot about the bridge, how it would look and some of the effects construction might have on the community, while we kept traffic open on the bridge.

You've got a ringside seat to the construction process of a bridge. What you're witnessing now is much of the preparation work that it takes to get the site ready to handle all of the trucks, equipment and people it takes to make a bridge rise from the river.

You have probably glimpsed some of the tall cranes our prime contractor Zenith Tech Inc. of Waukesha, Wis., are using to prepare the site on the Wisconsin side of the bridge. We're treating the poor soil conditions on the Wisconsin approach, so you'll continue to see steady truck traffic as we work on excavation and filling along Highway 63 and 825th Street. If you've been this way, you undoubtedly saw the temporary sheeting we installed along the highway for the fills that are coming.

We are also building a causeway on the Wisconsin side to help us get to the work we need to do in the Mississippi River.

Driving the piles

Perhaps the most notable work you've heard thus far is the start of the pile driving for the north abutment of the new bridge. The pile driving will be prevalent as we continue to work on the north bridge abutment and eventually out into the river to establish the bridge piers. Piles are steel poles that are driven far into the ground to establish the foundation support for the abutments and piers. It's loud, but we will curtail that work so we aren't working

during nighttime or weekend hours.

There is no pile driving for the bridge foundations we will be building in Red Wing.

This is also a reminder that businesses in Wisconsin remain open. There's a different route to get there, but you can still get to the Island Campground, Harbor Bar and the Trenton Island Yacht Club. We've worked with them to make sure they have information and are able to reach their customers and we'll continue that partnership.

In my last column, I noted that work was starting to take place on the Minnesota side and you've likely see some of the building demolition that was occurring to make way for the project. I thank you for staying away from these buildings and staying safe.

We also relocated a city of Red Wing sanitary force main along the river bank to start the bridge construction process there. We've closed the road between Levee Park and the Wastewater Treatment plant and it will remain closed for the duration of construction. We thank you for your patience, understanding and support of our work and the inconveniences necessary to build the project.

Crossover lanes

We're building crossover lanes on Highway 61 now as we prepare to start construction soon on Highway 61 and the buttonhook ramp for Highway 63, along with temporary bridge that will bring traffic over Highway 61. We remain on schedule and we keep working toward the goal of building the river piers up to a level, so they will be above the spring 2018 flood levels to continue progress without interruption. This is critical to the overall project schedule.

The new bridge is expected to open to traffic by fall of 2019 before we take down the existing bridge in this $63.4 million construction project.

You may have seen me and Red Wing City Engineer Jay Owens together. We've been presenting information about the project to several civic group and we'd be happy to visit with your group or provide your organization or business with the necessary information about the project so you can keep your employees informed. We've found that if you know more about the project, you can help others understand it and minimize any possible disruptions it might cause.

You can learn more about the project or sign up for email updates by going to MnDOT's project web site or you can follow us on Facebook at