MnDOT studying best option for High Bridge
RED WING - The Minnesota Department of Transportation held a public open house Thursday at Red Wing City Hall to give area residents an opportunity to gather information about the future of the Highway 63 bridge.
Following MnDOT's estimated timeline, the bridge - known as the Eisenhower Bridge or High Bridge - will be under construction in 2018. How much construction will be done, however, is the piece of the puzzle that's unknown.
Several ideas are on the table for how to handle the bridge and the approach roadways on the Minnesota side of it.
A meeting similar to Thursday's open house was held back in May at the Red Wing Public Library and gave citizens a chance to weigh in.
"After that meeting we drew up 10-11 different options and now we're starting to filter them out," explained Chad Hanson, project manager for MnDOT.
For some portions of the project MnDOT has been working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation because the High Bridge is split 50-50 between the two states. Each state works separately, however, when dealing with the approach roadways on their respective side of the bridge.
Five separate concepts for handling the approach roadways in Minnesota have already been dismissed, and MnDOT has narrowed its options to three.
Two of those remaining feature the construction of buttonhook intersections, while the third maintains the existing configuration of Highways 61 and 63.
If studies find that the bridge could be rehabilitated rather than replaced, construction costs would be saved. But keeping the existing configuration would make it difficult to eliminate congestion in downtown Red Wing, Hanson said.
Just as that option has its own points and drawbacks, the others do as well, which is why MnDOT is still in the preliminary phase of gathering data and reviewing its options. Some designs are better from a traffic standpoint, while others are better in terms of environmental impacts.
"Basically we're weighing the positives and negatives of each one," Hanson said.
The studying phase of the bridge project isn't expected to wrap up until the middle of 2014, when MnDOT hopes to have narrowed its options down to a single preferred concept. Hanson said public meetings will continue to be held to keep local residents in touch with how the project is progressing.
On the Web...
For more information on the Highway 63 bridge project, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/redwing-bridge/