The view of the Red Wing Bridge is about to change permanently.

Beginning on Feb. 5, Zenith Tech Inc., the bridge contractor, is scheduled to begin the removal of the old bridge’s spans, beginning with the center span truss. A lot of planning, analyzing and discussing goes into this effort before crews begin assembling equipment to ensure a safe removal.

Platforms have been installed on the truss and crews are in the process of installing special industrial jacks that can help lower the span onto a barge in the Mississippi River. Cable will be ready and tensioned to hold the truss as crews then start cutting it away to allow its lowering.

If you’re watching, it may be hard to discern the movement immediately, but over the course of minutes, then hours, you will see it lowered, much the way you would lower a vehicle with a jack. This bridge will have four jacks doing the work of lowering it about 15 feet per hour. At that rate, it’s expected to take approximately five hours to lower it onto a barge, which will then move it to shore, where it will be cut apart and taken to a scrap iron dealer.

Crane to barge

And then the process will continue to the other spans. With these, there won’t be jacks, but it will be lowered via cranes either to barges or onto land to be cut up and carted away. We expect the span removal to be completed in spring.

Our attention will then turn to the piers. Crews plan to cut the concrete off in pieces, eventually getting the piers down to a level where equipment will chisel away at the remainders while on barges. The pieces are expected to fall onto barges, but they will also scan to ensure that no elements end up on the river bottom.

Meanwhile, crews on the new bridge have been doing electrical work, primarily in the tub girders so there will be light available to inspectors and others who need to access the inside of the new bridge. As the weather shifts to spring and warmer temperatures, the ornamental railing will be installed on the bridge, as well as the electrical system for the aesthetic lighting.

Plenty of work remains, but you will really begin to notice the new look with the new bridge within a few weeks. Nearby, on the Wisconsin side crews continue the installation of a box culvert. They’re working with water levels right now, but expect to continue making progress.

This $63.4 million project is a strong partnership with MnDOT that includes the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the city of Red Wing, the Federal Highway Administration and our contractor, Zenith Tech, Inc.

As part of our team’s efforts, you will see Red Wing City Engineer Jay Owens and me together at various community events or on a bridge tour. We’d be happy to visit with your group or provide your organization or business with the necessary information about the project so you can keep your employees informed. We’ve found that if you know more about the project, you can help others understand it and minimize any possible disruptions it might cause. We do regular updates on the Community Access Channel 6, so you can catch us there as we provide updates and field questions. You can catch the replays on the city of Red Wing’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/CityofRedWing

We have a lot of good information that can help explain the project. You can learn more about the project or sign up for email updates by going to MnDOT’s project web site www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/redwing-bridge.