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Rising river delays work, but community support rising, too

Terry Ward is the Minnesota Department of Transportation construction project manager for the Red Wing Bridge project.

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 terry.ward@state.mn.us.

Did you know there is a marathon going on in Red Wing as we speak? No, it isn't as large and grand as the New York City, Boston or Twin Cities marathon but it is likely much more important to Red Wing and the region.

Based on our team's experience building major Mississippi River bridges, these projects are more like a marathon race than a sprint. There can be lots of excitement when the bridge construction work starts, but it doesn't take long for things to become methodical and sequential, like the mile after mile nature of a marathon.

Construction sequencing requires a linear process that is steady as you go and once a piece of the bridge is completed, it is nearly impossible to go back and re-do things. The ebb and flow of the process is like the flow of the Mississippi River, it can change in a hurry. Undoubtedly, there will be unexpected challenges and hurdles along the way, but the overall chemistry of the team needs to come together to tackle any and all challenges presented in an efficient and beneficial schedule and cost methodology.

The river construction portion of the new bridge is currently on hold as the Mississippi is doing what it can do at this time of the year, being high and fast flowing. We hope for a quick drop back to normal pool elevation so we can get back to the business at hand of drilling shafts for piers 1 and 2 and continuing on with our important work in the river.

The good news is we continue to be on-schedule for opening of the new bridge by the end of September of 2019 and have ways to make up any time if we need to. Also, there is still a lot of other work being accomplished while we wait for the river to cooperate, so work is getting done in other areas that aren't directly affect by the river.

We've met with Bob and Margi Moyer at Island Campground and discussed the possibility of our team working Saturdays and Sundays if we need to once the river recedes. They have been very understanding and accommodating for our team and deserve a great deal of thanks from the Red Wing community as they truly have been a good project partner.

Safety record

Some more good news, from a safety perspective we continue to have no lost work time on the project and our team continues to be very proactive in this regard. We also are building a high quality bridge and project as all the inspection and testing of materials from the 2017 construction season have been audited and approved with no lingering quality issues or concerns.

I want to thank the Red Wing community for the inconveniences we caused by our three-night shut down and detour of Highway 61 recently as we continued with removal of the existing bridge over Highway 61. Also, I want to thank the Red Wing regional area for your patience and understanding during the recent traffic switch to the button-hook and temporary bridge.

We continue to take feedback on signing and signal system operations and have made a number of enhancements since the switch based on your feedback and the expertise of our team.

It is exciting to think that the new river bridge opening is just over a year away and the thought of the community holding a ribbon-cutting celebration. While our team still could "hit the wall" during our marathon effort, I am convinced the Zenith Tech Inc. team will be up to the challenge and be able to push through to the finish line.

This $63.4 million project is a strong partnership that includes the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the city of Red Wing, the Federal Highway Administration and our contractor, Zenith Tech.

As part of team's efforts, you will see Jay Owens and me together at various community events or on a bridge tour. We've been presenting information about the project to civic groups 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. We do regular updates on the Community Access Channel 6, so you can catch us there as we provide updates and field questions.

We have a lot of good information that can help explain the project. You can learn more about the project or sign up for email updates by going to MnDOT's project web site www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/redwing-bridge/ or you can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RedWingBridgeProject/.

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