The I-90 Bridge spans the Mississippi River between Dresbach, Minnesota and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Built in 1967, it is a 2,490-foot-long, 4-lane bridge.
The existing, fracture-critical bridge has narrow shoulders that cause lane closures when vehicles are stranded or during routine maintenance operations. Current interchange geometry creates difficult and unsafe traffic movements for commuter traffic.
- Minnesota / Wisconsin Line
Project Letting – Oct. 19, 2012
Construction –Late 2012/early 2013 through 2016
- $175-$225 million
The I-90 bridge over the Mississippi River is a heavily used commuter route for travelers in the La Crosse/La Crescent region. Morning commuters flood the eastbound direction and afternoon commutes often fill up the westbound and southbound routes. The new interchange addresses these primary concerns along with better river access in the project area.
The final interchange configuration will provide full movement with no signals between I-90 and Highway 61 as well as access to the Traveler Information Center and boat launches from all directions. The heavily used westbound I-90 to southbound Highway 61 will feature a fly-under ramp allowing continuous movement with no competing traffic.
To safely accommodate all of the desired movements, the interchange will look drastically different when completed. However, great effort was made to ensure that the resulting bridge and interchange will fit into the beautiful surroundings created by the bluff and river environment.
A Visual Quality Team met during the design phase of the project to guide decisions toward a natural fit into the project setting. Stone patterns and colors were selected for the structural elements matching the surrounding limestone rocks in the bluffs. The visual quality design intends to draw attention to the landscape by minimizing the visual impact of the interchange features.
Final elements of this design goal include:
- Concrete color finish to complement surrounding limestone bluffs.
- Bridge pier shapes honoring the shape of local trees.
- Bridge type that does not compete with views.
- Open bridge rail allowing river views.
- Subtle accent lighting preserving the natural lighting environment.
Bicycles and Pedestrians
The Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is a bicycle and pedestrian pathway that follows the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.
The MRT runs right through the heart of the Dresbach Bridge and Interchange Project. Currently, the trail weaves its way through the interchange configuration along the narrow shoulders, crossing high-speed traffic at challenging angles.
The final configuration will provide safe access for users on a 10-foot trail through the interchange without a single crossing with highway traffic. A modified trail system and pedestrian bridge connects riders using the Highway 61 shoulders south of the project to the dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path on the north end of the project. In addition, access is improved to the Rest Area/Traveler Information Center for users of the trail.