RED WING, Minn. -- Construction will soon begin on a new bridge in Red Wing connecting Minnesota to Wisconsin.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans on replacing the Highway 63 Eisenhower Bridge during a three-year project. Crews will also rebuild the Highway 63 bridge over Highway 61.
"This crossing is important to the community and it's important to us," said Terry Ward, MnDOT construction manager for the Red Wing Bridge Project.
While the construction start date is May 5, Ward said construction will most likely begin in the middle of May.
The Eisenhower Bridge is fracture critical, meaning that if one fracture critical member of the bridge were to fail, the entire bridge could collapse.
Crews will build the new Red Wing Mississippi River bridge upstream from the Eisenhower Bridge, right next to it.
The Eisenhower bridge provides a crucial connection between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It provides the only regional crossing of the river for approximately 30 miles upstream and downstream which is why MnDOT is keeping the bridge open during construction.
When the new bridge opens, likely September 2019, crews will then begin tearing down the old bridge.
"During the peak commute hours in the morning and afternoon, there's no traffic impacts," Ward said. "There may be some flagging operations during the daytime outside of those peak hours."
The new bridge is expected to improve traffic on highways in downtown Red Wing. The project includes improved highway connections to Highway 61, Minnesota Highway 58 and approach roadways in Wisconsin.
"We'll have two 12-foot lanes, one in each direction. We'll have wider 6-foot shoulders on both sides. There's really very minimal shoulders on the Eisenhower Bridge," Ward said.
The bridge will also have two overlooks and a 12-foot-wide bike path that will run across the Mississippi.
"This should be better. It should be a lot better," said David Mullen, who volunteers at Annadee's Closet. The store is located right off of Highway 63 on the Minnesota side.
The entire project is expected to be complete by August 2020.
Wednesday night, MnDOT held an open house on the project. You can read more about the project, here.