The Winona Bridge rehabilitation project is a two-bridge solution that includes the rehabilitation of the existing bridge and the construction of a new permanent bridge upstream.

Originally built in 1942, the Winona Bridge is constructed over the Mississippi River between the City of Winona in Winona County, Minnesota, and the Town of Buffalo, Buffalo County, Wisconsin. It carries Trunk Highway 43 over the Mississippi River and connects downtown Winona to Latsch Island.

The new bridge is scheduled to be open for traffic on 27 August 2016, while rehabilitation of the existing bridge will be completed by 2019. The project is estimated to cost between $150m and $175m and includes right-of-way, design and construction contract administration.

A review process was conducted for the project by a partnership comprising the US Federal Highway Administration, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDoT), and the State Historical Preservation Office.

Extensive evaluations have been conducted to finalise a project solution as the bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Winona Bridge rehabilitation project background

The Winona Bridge spans a 1.5-mile (2.41km) crossing and comprises three key components along three earthen dikes. The notable components are the Main Channel Bridge, North Channel Bridge and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Overhead Bridge.

Measuring 2,289ft, the bridge carries approximately 12,000 vehicles a day and is a significant river crossing for commuters, commercial vehicles, emergency services and tourists.

The project will rehabilitate and expand a segment of Trunk Highway 43 Mississippi River Crossing comprising Main Channel Bridge and North Channel Bridge.

The bridge was first closed to traffic in 2008 due to emergency repairs, leading to a 60-mile detour to cross the river. MnDoT decided to rehabilitate the bridge following the repairs as part of a state-wide programme to fix fracture-critical bridges.

A two-bridge solution was agreed upon owing to the importance of the crossing and also to keep the crossing accessible and reduce the financial burden.

Details of the new bridge over the Mississippi River

The multi-phased project will comprise the construction of a new cast-in-place, balanced cantilevered segmental bridge that will be parallel to the existing bridge.

A concrete box girder design will be used for constructing the new bridge that will be of the same height and style as the historic truss of the current bridge. It will be constructed before starting the rehabilitation of the old bridge and will help in minimising the impact on the traffic and commuters.

The new structure will be a two-lane bridge and will carry traffic heading southwards. The new bridge piers will be aligned with the piers of the existing bridge to maintain navigational clearance and also to appear harmonious, providing an uninterrupted view of the river.

A 12ft-wide pedestrian and bike path will also be constructed as part of the new bridge, along with improvements to turn lanes, signals and the intersection Winona Street between 4th Street.

Winona bridge rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of the existing bridge will include reconstructing approach spans of the structure and refurbishing the Warren truss. The bridge will be modified into a two-lane bridge moving traffic to the north.

The restructuring will include full deck removal and replacement with a lightweight concrete deck, removal of the cantilevered walkway and replacing the deck truss spans and piers. The main through-truss and piers will be repaired, cleaned and painted.


MnDoT adopted a construction manager/general contractor (CMGC) procurement process for the project to expedite the completion of the bridge. Under this method, construction on the new bridge commenced, while the design was still being finalised.

The project is being executed through multiple work packages with work package one comprising H-piling, while work package two was for dock installation and project access construction. The construction of cofferdams and the substructure of the six river piers formed part of package three, whereas the ongoing package four comprises construction of the substructure and superstructure of the cast-in-place segmental bridges and approaches.

Construction is in progress on the cast-in-place segmental portion of the bridge, which requires building a 16ft segment on either side of the river piers to balance it.

Key players involved

Ames Construction was selected as the contractor for the project, while SRF was chosen to provide environmental documentation and preliminary engineering. SRF’s scope of work included preliminary design of the project including roadway, water resources, extensive bridge and urban design work.

SRF also worked on visual quality management, public and agency involvement, traffic forecasting and operations analysis. Cost estimation, feasibility study, geometric layout and evaluation activities were also performed by the same company.