Replacement of the International Bridge that connects the cities of Baudette, Minn., and Rainy River, Ont., has been completed, allowing for restricted traffic, due to the pandemic.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, reports it has completed construction of the new bridge linking Highway 72 and Highway 11, and plans for demolition of old bridge this month.
The construction began in 2018 to create a safer and longer lasting bridge as well as a safer walkway for pedestrians and shoulders for bicyclists, MnDOT officials said in a news release. The contractor for the $39.3 million project is Lunda Construction Co. For more information and project photos, visit the website at www.mndot.gov/d2/projects/baudette-bridge.
The old bridge is a 1,283-ft., six-span steel truss bridge over the Rainy River, consisting of one lane in each direction with a 5.9-ft.-wide sidewalk. It was built in 1959 by Barnett-McQueen Ltd. The new 1,350-ft., five-span continuous haunched steel I-girder bridge has one-lane in each direction and a six foot sidewalk on one side.
"It is the only border crossing for 50 miles in either direction," said Joe McKinnon, MnDOT project manager. "This portion of the Rainy River is approximately 1,200 feet wide. It is also a popular fishing spot year-round. Construction has been limited during sturgeon spawning times, and provisions were made during construction to allow for fishing boat traffic safety."
Stantec, engineering services company based in Edmonton, Alberta, produced the preliminary and environmental designs, and the Parsons Transportation Group of Washington, D.C., developed the final bridge design. These efforts were coordinated with 90 stakeholders to address environmental, construction, and border control concerns, as well as historical concerns and the public participation process.
"The design is a typical steel-girder and cast-in-place concrete deck," said McKinnon. "The reinforcing steel in the deck is stainless steel as an effort to create a longer lifespan of the deck surface life, before a deck rehabilitation project would need to be done in the future."
Sell the bridge?
Although both countries partnered in this project, there were differences. The historic consideration of the bridge, a rare example of a Pennsylvania truss, made it eligible in the U.S. for listing in the National Register of Historic Places
By law, the state must inform a responsible government or other entity of its availability for preservation and relocation. Otherwise known as, 'putting it up for sale.' However, the U.S. only owns half of the bridge, while Canadian authorities did not consider the bridge as historic.
"Because of its historic designation we had to try and offer the bridge for sale," said McKinnon. "But since ownership of the bridge is split with Canada, we were actually advertising only half of a bridge for sale. The advertising for the chance to buy half of a bridge created a stir online and in the media, but it didn't generate any interested parties due to the considerable costs to disassemble, move and reassemble."
Demolition of the old bridge is expected to take three to four months, beginning in October, weather permitting. Due to winter shut-down and stream bed restrictions, the removal of the old bridge will continue into summer 2021. Work to be completed summer 2021 includes:
- removal of underwater structures
- paint girders
- install special surface on concrete
- remove dock wall
- turf establishment
Road work continues to be a critical service. MnDOT is committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of its employees, contractors and all Minnesotans. Crews continue to follow the guidance of state and federal health officials to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Join the MnDOT District 2 Facebook group for updates on construction, road conditions and other transportation related topics. www.facebook.com/groups/mndotnorthwest/. For a complete list of projects for 2020, please visit www.mndot.gov/d2.
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.