Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 63 Bridges over Mississippi River and Hwy 61

Red Wing

Orange barrels on a highway

Background

Why is this project being proposed?
MnDOT, in cooperation with WisDOT, the FHWA, and the City of Red Wing, is conducting the Red Wing Bridge Project. The project includes the Highway 63 (Eisenhower) Bridge over the Mississippi River and the Highway 63 Bridge over Highway 61, as well as the highway connections to Highway 61, Minnesota Highway 58, and approach roadways in Wisconsin. The Eisenhower Bridge provides the only regional crossing of the river for approximately 30 miles upstream and downstream for several communities on both the Wisconsin and Minnesota sides of the river.
Laws passed by the Minnesota legislature following the I-35W Bridge collapse provide funding for rehabilitation or replacement of certain types of bridges in the state. The Eisenhower Bridge is “fracture critical” by nature of its truss design and therefore is eligible for funding through the new State funding program.
MnDOT is working through a process that has considered a range of improvements alternatives, identified a recommended alternative, and is currently assessing the environmental impacts of the recommended alternative. Following the environmental impact analysis which is scheduled to be completed in spring 2015, final design will be initiated and should extend to 2017. Construction is proposed to begin in 2017.
Decision process
Decisions regarding the project are being made by MnDOT as the agency responsible for the bridge, in consultation with WisDOT and FHWA. MnDOT will also need to obtain approval (municipal consent) from the City of Red Wing as required by state law. MnDOT must also obtain a number of other approvals for the project, such as river navigation, environmental impacts, and land acquisition. One of the project goals, which has been obtained, is to avoid long term closures during construction. MnDOT understands that communities on both sides of the river rely on the river crossing on a daily basis.
Environmental review
An Environmental Assessment/Environmental Assessment Worksheet complying with State and Federal guidelines will be prepared and distributed for comment. An EA/EAW provides background information including:

  • Need for the proposed project
  • Alternatives considered
  • Environmental impacts and mitigation
  • Agency coordination and public involvement

A public hearing will be held in Spring 2015 as part of the formal comment period for the EA/EAW.

Alternatives
In the summer of 2014, MnDOT completed a comprehensive evaluation of both rehabilitation and replacement options for the river crossing and the Highway 63 overpass of Highway 61. The process included assessing the physical, community, and environmental impacts as well as cost and transportation benefits of a range of alternatives. The decision regarding the recommended alternative (see the Project Home and Design Documents tabs) involved input from all stakeholders. An important part of the recommended alternative decision process was input from the community. Business representatives, local government officials, and the Project Advisory Committee were part of a collaborative and open process. MnDOT also presented the alternatives analysis and has gathered input from the public at three open house meetings to date.
MnDOT follows strict regulations about property acquisition to ensure fair and equitable treatment of property owners. Once the EA/EAW is complete, MnDOT will talk with property owners affected by the project about anticipated impacts to their property. These impacts could range from temporary construction easements or purchases of small strips of property at the roadway edge, to a purchase of the entire property. Individuals with specific concerns should speak with the MnDOT Project Manager, Chad Hanson (chad.hanson@state.mn.us or 507-286-7637)

Historical significance
Completed in 1960, the Eisenhower Bridge is a steel through-truss bridge that crosses the Mississippi River main channel at Red Wing, Minnesota. The two-lane bridge is 1,631 feet long, 35 feet wide, and stands 65 feet above the river. The Eisenhower Bridge has been determined to not be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. However, the Highway 63 Bridge over Highway 61 is eligible for listing on the NRHP.
Section 106 of the Act requires federal projects to consider historic preservation in planning and decision making. MnDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, and the State Historic Preservation Officer have been working together to ensure the Section 106 process is followed. To that end, MnDOT completed the Bridge 9103 Rehabilitation Study to comprehensively assess the feasibility of rehabilitating Bridge 9103 as part of this project. Additionally, Red Wing contains historically and architecturally significant buildings, which reflect the city’s mid-19th century beginnings as a riverfront trade point. Red Wing includes a total of 25 listings on the NRHP; the downtown district retains the majority of the commercial buildings that were constructed during the city’s early boom period of 1860 – 1910. Red Wing has long been considered a leader in the historic preservation movement in Minnesota, maintaining and rehabilitating a wide range of structures throughout the city.