RED WING — It’s almost time for rubber to meet the road on the new Red Wing bridge.

The yearslong, $63.4 million construction project is entering the final stages, and that means cross-state traffic will soon be switched onto the new bridge.

Weather this fall prompted changes to plans for a public ceremony to mark the traffic switch, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but the switch, expected sometime this month, will be marked by a short procession of fire and police vehicles across the new bridge.

Pavement is done on the bridge and work was underway on decorative spires, MnDOT Construction Manager Mark Anderson said at project update meeting Nov. 5 in City Hall.

City Engineer Jay Owens added that the pedestrian trail over the bridge will not open this winter.

Updates and traffic impacts can be found on the project website,

Tearing down of the old bridge is set to begin as soon as the traffic switch is made.

“The plan is to take the concrete deck off first and then start removing the trusses after that,” Anderson said. Supports under the bridge will catch debris as slabs are broken off.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for summer 2020 to celebrate the completion of the project.

Work on the new bridge — officially named the Eisenhower Bridge of Valor — began in May 2017, though planning started years earlier. Minnesota laws passed in the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007 provided funding for bridge projects. The existing bridge, built in 1960, was deemed “fracture critical” due to its design, meaning the bridge could collapse if a key component were to fail.

The project is a joint venture by the Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation departments, the city of Red Wing and the Federal Highway Administration. Wisconsin-based Zenith Tech is the primary contractor.

The bridge is the only Mississippi River crossing between Hastings and Wabasha. More than 13,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, according to a 2012 MnDOT study.

The scope of the work also includes improvements to approach roads in Minnesota and Wisconsin.