by Sarah Squires
Transportation officials are expected to determine in January whether Winona’s current bridge can be rehabilitated to last another 75 years, or, whether a new, larger and taller bridge will reach further into downtown Winona.
A study on the rehab possibilities for the current bridge is expected to be completed soon, a study the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) is required to do because of the unique historic characteristics of the current bridge. It’s the state’s only surviving example of a cantilever through-truss design used for long spans and built prior to 1946, and is eligible to be listed on the National Historic Register.
Mn/DOT officials didn’t seem too confident that the current bridge will show the potential to be used for traffic for 75 more years with repairs. In October, Mn/DOT representative Nancy Daubenberger said that there aren’t many examples of the larger truss style bridges, like Winona’s, seeing success in such a rehab option.
But even if that study does determine the current bridge won’t last 75 more years, Winona likely won’t be saying goodbye to the structure in 2014, the year it is planned to be replaced. Mn/DOT officials are studying a replacement option that would include a new, two-lane bridge that could be easily extended to four lanes when needed. Then, Winona could have a bridge situation similar to La Crosse -- with one new two-lane bridge alongside the old. Then, when the life of the current bridge is over, two new lanes could be added to the new span.
Possible new bridge locations include the following options:
• A straight shot from Latsch Island to Huff Street;
• A curved option over the water connecting to Huff Street from Latsch;
• A straight connection between Huff and Winona streets that would touch down mid-block on Fourth Street; and
• Two routes that run immediately east and west of the current bridge.
Three of the options still on the table, including the curved Huff Street connection and the two immediately adjacent to the current bridge, would bring the new bridge further into downtown to a Fifth Street connection. The construction of a new bridge will also likely go hand in hand with an altered Highway 43 route through downtown, possibly down Fifth Street or Broadway.