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Terry Ward column: Bridge milestones signal progress toward completion

Next Monday, weather permitting, a historic milestone will be accomplished on the existing Eisenhower Bridge. We are scheduled to complete our last fractural critical inspection on June 11. Any inspection next spring would be routine in advance of bridge demolition in the fall of next year.

This means the opening of the new Mississippi River crossing bridge is on the horizon by late September or early October of 2019 and it is inching closer to the time when planning for a ribbon-cutting celebration may start. Wow, things have moved fast in this regard.

I vividly remember attending my first Red Wing Bridge project meeting with our designer, Chad Hanson, and thinking about all the heavy lifting needed to make it to the scheduled contract letting date in March 2017. I remember the first time meeting staff at Red Wing Shoe, Archer Daniels Midland, Island Campground, Harbor Bar and the Red Wing Area Chamber, among many others. And what about the letting date results? I remember thinking how much fun it was going to be to work with the Zenith Tech team.

Where has the time gone?

We are back in the river now working on Pier 2 for the new bridge. The river appears to be cooperating with us as we continue to be on-schedule for opening of the new bridge by the end of September or the first part of October of 2019. Soon, you'll see our team installing concrete beams on the Wisconsin approach piers and eventually, the large steel tub girders will come to town.

Dorothy Kraft recently send me a bridge article on the Forth Bridge in Scotland. What an interesting bridge and story. We posted it to our bridge project Facebook page so feel free to send me other bridge related stories you would like us to share.

I want to thank the Red Wing community for continued patience and understanding as we build our project. It has truly been a partnership with the community, which we appreciate because those are our most successful projects.

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 Inc.

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 or you can follow us on Facebook at