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, has initiated 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.

MnDOT is working through a study process that includes consideration of a range of alternatives for rehabilitating or replacing the river crossing as well as the Highway 63 bridge over Highway 61. A preferred improvement alternative is expected to be identified in 2013 and the environmental impact
review process should be completed by the end of 2014. Final design is scheduled to be conducted between 2014 and 2017. Construction is proposed to begin summer 2018.

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.

Decision process

Decisions regarding the project will be made by MnDOT as the agency responsible for the bridge, in consultation with WisDOT and FHWA. MnDOT will also obtain approval (municipal consent) from the City of Red Wing for the project 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. MnDOT is moving forward in a collaborative process involving City and County staff, state and federal permitting agencies, and representatives from the Red Wing area, to identify and evaluate alternatives, leading to selection of a preferred alternative that best balances the many factors associated with the project.

One of the project goals is to keep the bridge open to traffic as much as is feasible. MnDOT understands the communities on both sides of the river rely on the crossing, and area residents and business owners do not want a long term closure.

What's involved in rehabilitating a bridge?

A rehabilitation project could range from fairly minimal repairs and painting, to a major overhaul such as disassembling the bridge and rebuilding it with partially new materials. A range of options is under study to identify which types of rehabilitation would provide the needed structural repairs.

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 as part of the formal comment period for the EA/EAW.

Alternatives

MnDOT is currently studying and evaluating rehabilitation and replacement options, including assessing the physical, community and environmental impacts as well as the cost and transportation benefits of the alternatives. The decision regarding a preferred alternative will involve input from all stakeholders. Due to agency involvement with the rehabilitation process, the precise schedule for making project decisions is currently unknown however a decision is expected in the second half of 2013.

An important part of the decision process will be input from the community. Business representatives, local government officials, and the Project Advisory Committee will be part of a collaborative and open process. MnDOT will also present the alternatives analysis and gather input from the public at open house meetings to be scheduled.

When a meeting date is set, MnDOT will work with City officials to get the word out to the community through news releases and notices to community organizations. Meeting notices will also be placed on the MnDOT website. Your input is important to this process. Please provide comments to the MnDOT Project Manager, Chad Hanson (chad.hanson@state.mn.us or 507-286-7637).

MnDOT follows strict regulations about property acquisition to ensure fair and equitable treatment of property owners. Once a preferred alternative concept has been determined, MnDOT will begin to talk with property owners potentially 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)

Regardless of whether a rehabilitation-only option is selected, or a new bridge is part of the solution, MnDOT is evaluating the alternatives based on potential impacts to the community and the environment, as well as how well the alternatives meet the project purpose and need. Broad assessment of potential impacts will be used to select a preferred alternative. Once a preferred alternative is selected, a more detailed analysis will determine how potential impacts can be avoided or minimized. This analysis will be documented in an environmental document and made available for public input prior to project approvals.

If a replacement bridge is chosen as part of the preferred alternative it will include separate trail accommodations. MnDOT and WisDOT are currently reviewing the feasibility of adding bicyclist and pedestrian accommodations to the existing crossing.

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 work together to ensure the Section 106 process is followed. In addition, state-level agreements also govern historic preservation considerations.

The feasibility of rehabilitating the existing bridges is a key factor in understanding the project alternatives.

Because they must reflect both state and federal regulations and policies, evaluation criteria are being carefully reviewed at all levels. Factors under consideration include the impacts of rehabilitation activities on the historic materials and design of the bridge, the cost of rehabilitation options, the life expectancy of the bridge following rehabilitation activities, and whether rehabilitation can occur without closing the bridge for a significant amount of time.

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.