Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

I-90 Dresbach Bridge

at the Minnesota/Wisconsin Line

Barge on the Mississippi River

Dresbach Bridge Project - 2014 year in review

The profile of the new Dresbach Bridge rose from the water this year as crews completed many of the piers and began pouring concrete to form the superstructure of the eastbound bridge. The weather caused delays at the beginning and end of the 2014 construction season with spring flooding, and cold and snow in early November, but the project remains on-schedule for completion in 2016.



Crews completed all nine piers in the river for the eastbound river crossing.

The nine eastbound piers were completed this year, along with westbound piers 3-9.  Westbound piers 1 and 2 are under construction.  

map of piers

Westbound I-90 exit 276 to southbound Highway 61 closed until 2016.

In April crews closed exit 276 for I-90 westbound traffic to go southbound on Highway 61 (toward La Crescent). Traffic is detoured to Dresbach on westbound I-90 and motorists must take Dresbach exit 273 B & A to eastbound I-90. This closure was implemented to allow crews to construct the bridges over the railroad and the west abutment for the new river bridges.  The closure will remain in place until 2016. The Traveler Information Center and rest area, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service boat launch were also closed and will remain closed until 2016.


i-90 exit map

Crews began building the eastbound cast-in-place box girder bridge superstructure.

Crews began building the actual structural part of the eastbound bridge, which is a cast-in-place cantilevered segmental concrete bridge. Two sets of “travelers” were brought on-site in April to be used by crews in completing this work. (A traveler is a movable form that allows concrete to be poured to cast each segment of the bridge superstructure.) Using the travelers, crews completed 56 sections of the bridge superstructure. Each “section” or pour extends the bridge superstructure by 16 feet 3 inches. The eastbound bridge will be completed in 2015 and the westbound bridge will be completed in 2016.


concrete pour progress

pier and scaffolding

MnDOT Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Sue Mulvihill visited the project site.

MnDOT Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Sue Mulvihill got an up-close look at the Dresbach Bridge project site during a visit in June. Here, she is shown speaking with Project Engineer Mark Anderson.

Sue Mulvehill

Precast concrete beams for the eastbound bridge were trucked in and placed.

Beginning in August, precast concrete beams were brought in on a semi and lifted into place with a crane. The beams will support the bridge deck and transfer the traffic loads to the piers and abutment. There will be a total of 48 beams (24 beams per bridge). Twenty beams have already been placed between piers 4 and 9 on the eastbound bridge. Twenty-eight more will be placed in the next year—24 on the westbound bridge and four between pier 9 and the Wisconsin abutment for the eastbound bridge.


bridge piers

worker examines beam as it lowers

New bridge serving the Lock & Dam and the DNR Boat Launch was completed and opened.

The new bridge serving Lock & Dam No. 7 and the DNR Boat Launch was completed and opened to traffic in September. Once the overall project is completed, this bridge will also serve the Traveler Information Center and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Boat Launch (which remain closed). The old bridge was also removed.

truck on road

aerial view of site

Mechanically stabilized earth wall along I-90 was completed.

Crews constructed a mechanically stabilized earth wall along I-90, which was completed in November. Mechanically stabilized earth, or MSE, is soil constructed with artificial reinforcing. First, geosynthetic straps are attached to the wall panels.  Then, granular material is placed on top of the straps and compacted.  The weight of the granular fill holds the wall panels in place. Eventually the area below the wall will be used for the bike trail, and the area above the wall will become the ramp from northbound Highway 61.

Additionally, crews completed the construction of the westbound pavement from the north end of the project toward the bridges. Work on the Wisconsin approach area (east) continues with select granular fill having been placed this past year. And, crews installed fiber optic cables and two dynamic message signs along eastbound I-90 and northbound Highway 61.


construction dirt pile

Inspections and maintenance of the current bridges continued.

The existing bridges that carry I-90 traffic east and west during construction are continuing to undergo regular inspections and maintenance to ensure traffic flow is maintained during construction. MnDOT’s bridge inspectors conducted a thorough evaluation of the structures in August 2014.


bridge inspection sniffer

Upcoming work

Over the winter Ames Construction plans to drive piling for the east and west abutments of the river bridges, construct the east abutment, continue to build piers for Bridges 85849 and 85850, and construct retaining walls for the abutments for both bridges. (Bridge 85849 is the bridge on westbound I-90 that runs over the railroad tracks, and Bridge 85850 is the eastbound bridge that runs over the railroad tracks).

Additional work in 2015 will include:

  • Finishing the eastbound river bridge
  • Constructing Bridges 85849 and 85850 and 85013 (Bridge 85013 allows access between the Traveler Information Center and southbound highway 61).
  • Constructing several retaining walls
  • Building I-90 between the river bridges and bridges 858494 and 85850

crane and pier