Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Aug. 29, 2018

MnDOT inspects Winona Bridge pier, analyzes information after barge collision

WINONA, Minn. –Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspectors have evaluated and reviewed conditions with three different inspections of the new Winona Bridge after a pier was struck by a Mississippi River barge on July 31.

MnDOT inspectors say they have not discovered any damage that will compromise the bridge’s safety. There was some localized damage at pier 11 from the barge impact that will be repaired. 

“The bridge performed as it was designed for the impact of a barge hit. Similar to other bridge hit incidents, we inspect and evaluate the safety of the structure.  We also repair any damaged areas to extend the service life of bridge,” said Ed Lutgen, state bridge construction and maintenance engineer. “It’s also good information to document for future inspections and monitoring the repairs.”

Inspections by MnDOT included:

  • July 31 – MnDOT inspectors in a tug boat reviewed the impact area and compiled firsthand accounts. No major damage was noted, but there was a localized area that showed exposed rebar, some spalling and scraping. 
  • Aug. 9 - MnDOT hydraulics unit used an underwater sonar 3D camera to map the concrete footing and strut between bridge Nos. 85851 (new bridge) and 5900 (old bridge). No damage was noted underwater.
  • Aug. 13 – MnDOT used a snooper truck to look at the pier blades (columns) for any cracking or evidence of twisting due to impact. The deck expansion joints were also inspected to make sure they were still in alignment and conducted a walk-through of the box interior with no new issues noted. No damage was noted.

A plan for repairing the concrete footing is being developed and planned for this fall. MnDOT is also pursuing damage compensation from the barge’s insurance company.

When the bridge was designed and built, engineers reviewed bridge traffic, barge speeds and loads in developing plans for the new bridge to safely sustain collisions. The new bridge was opened to traffic on Aug. 27, 2016. The new bridge was designed upstream aligned to serve as a protection to the older, historic bridge down river. The new bridge’s concrete thickness, reinforcement and deeper pilings into the river bed were all aimed at safely sustaining a collision.

The new Winona Bridge, Bridge No. 85851, carries Highway 43 traffic in both directions across the bridge while the historic Winona Bridge, Bridge No. 5900, is closed and being rehabilitated. The older bridge is expected to open to traffic in the fall of 2019. Contracts for the new bridge and the rehabilitation work total $145.8 million.

Follow construction progress on the project website at www.mndot.gov/winonabridge.

To learn more about MnDOT construction projects and activities in southeastern Minnesota, join its Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/MnDOTsoutheast/.

For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.