ST. PAUL, Minn. (8 p.m.) —The Minnesota Department of Transportation today ordered the closure of the Minnesota Highway 43 (Winona)/Wisconsin Highway 54 bridge over the Mississippi River due to rust and corrosion found in gusset plates at several locations of the bridge.
“The closing of the Highway 43/54 bridge is a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the traveling public,” said Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel. “Corrosion of gusset plates was discovered today during an inspection of the bridge.”
“We regret the inconvenience to motorists due to this closure and the resulting long detour,” Sorel said. “We also appreciate everyone’s patience.”
In January, the National Transportation Safety Board issued an alert regarding gusset plate design asking states to recalculate the loads when major work was planned for the bridge. Mn/DOT immediately began checking gusset plates on all 25 steel truss state bridges whether or not work was planned.
In addition to rust and corrosion, there appears to be some buckling of a gusset plate in one location on the deck truss portion of the bridge. Inspections have not yet been completed on the main span.
Gusset plate inspection of the bridge will continue through Friday. After that time, an evaluation will be made to determine what traffic weight may be allowed for the bridge. The analysis is expected to take several weeks and the closure will remain in effect during this time.
The Highway 43/54 bridge was built in 1941 and remodeled in 1985. It is a high truss bridge that is 2,289 feet long and carries two lanes of traffic and approximately 11,600 vehicles per day.
The bridge was inspected in April and August 2007. The bridge was found to have a sufficiency rating of 49.8 and was considered safe for operation.
Mn/DOT has designated this southern detour for the bridge: Highway 43 to Minnesota Highways 14/61 to Interstate 90 over the Mississippi River Bridge near Dresbach, to Wisconsin Highway 53, back to Wisconsin Highway 54. Detour length is 65 miles.
For more information go to Mn/DOT's Web site at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/projects/43-winona/
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