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Terry Ward column: Red Wing Bridge work knows no season

Winter tends to slow down life in this region, but for observers of the Red Wing Bridge project, you'll notice a steady effort of activity despite the cold temperatures.

We have a strong target for accomplishing a lot of work by spring 2018 and that means you'll see contractor Zenith Tech Inc. and subcontractors hard at work this winter.

The most current example of that will be on display during the evening hours Dec. 14, 2017, when we remove a portion of the Highway 63 approach bridge that goes over Highway 61. We will detour Highway 61 south of the bridge back at Wacouta. Local businesses and residents along Highway 61 still will be able to get to their businesses and residences. The Highway 63/Eisenhower Bridge will remain open during the effort. It will not be closed.

A portion of the existing small bridge over Highway 61 will be removed to install a temporary bridge between it and Barn Bluff. This bridge also will not close, as traffic will continue to use the current traffic configurations on it a during this work. This will prepare the project for a traffic switch in April 2018.

The temporary bridge and the new button hook signalized intersection with Highway 61 are slated to be opened when the slip ramp on the Red Wing side of the bridge is closed from April 2018 to September 2019.

The Highway 61 detour will be from 6 p.m. Dec. 14 to 6 a.m. Dec. 15. If work isn't completed during that time it will be resumed at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 until completed.

The detour route will take northbound Highway 61 traffic on Goodhue County Road 21/Flower Valley Road west to Highway 58, and then travel north on Highway 58 into Red Wing. Southbound motorists will follow the route in reverse.

Meanwhile, look to the river for more continued work. The piers continue to rise higher on the Wisconsin side and now that the causeway has been built, you'll be seeing work to begin the building of Pier No. 2 in the river.

You might recall that we drove piles into the ground for the piers on the Wisconsin side. For pier Nos. 1 and 2, Zenith Tech will be drilling shafts instead to place the piles and pour the concrete. It will mean less noise this winter.

Our goal in all of this work through the winter is to be sure that the piers and other work is up at a level that it won't be delayed by spring flooding. As many of you know who live along the river, some level of flooding in the spring is to be expected, and we want to be sure that it won't delay our efforts.

One way to stay on top of the changes that occur with the project is to sign up for email updates. Those who do knew immediately when we had to change the date on the Highway 61 overnight detour to Dec. 14. We continue to put information out through many channels, but your email is one way to get it and read it when it's most convenient to you.

We continue to work toward the goal of having the new bridge open to traffic by fall of 2019 before we take down the existing bridge in this $63.4 million construction project.

You have probably seen me and Red Wing City Engineer Jay Owens 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 can also talk with you about the impacts of the slip ramp closure next spring, if you desire.

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