The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) presented an extensive report to the Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday regarding the proposed Broadway historic district and property eligibility for listings on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as bridge rehabilitation information.
In compliance with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, it is required to identify eligible properties for the bridge rehabilitation or replacement project.
The nearly four-month long architectural evaluation has determined a period of significance from 1852 to 1930 to be the main criteria for eligible properties.
Garneth Peterson from the Mn/DOT Cultural Resources Unit said the “Proposed Broadway Residential Historic District” contains 137 properties more than 50 years old, with 84 contributing to the historical integrity and 53 non-contributing.
“Just because a property is non-contributing, doesn’t meant it’s a bad building,” Peterson said. “It just means it doesn’t meet the particular qualifications for the register.”
The projected boundaries for the district are from Grand to Lafayette on both sides of Broadway, and Wabasha from about Harriet to Johnson Street.
The study showed the district would include Windom and Central Parks, four churches, properties with Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial, Period Revival and Craftsman styles, and seven properties already on the register.
Mn/DOT also found seven other properties eligible for listings outside the district including the Winona Municipal Marina, a segment of the C & NW Rail under the bridge, Winona Monument Company building, Winona Water Works building, the Peter and Anna Schmitt house, the William and Louisa Kohler house and the YMCA.
SHPO representative Michael Koop urged the commission to use the information presented and take advantage of the grant opportunities provided.
“We are here to cheer you on and help you recognize that this incredible information is really a treasure trove of historical research,” Koop said.
Interstate bridge rehabilitation
The study also found the Interstate bridge to be of historical significance and under mandated Federal Highway Administration statute, rehabilitation must first be considered before replacement can become an option.
The report found eight “character defining features” on the Interstate bridge that contribute to the historic integrity of the bridge which include deck trusses, the steel through truss, and the approach and connecting concrete on either side of the bridge.
With the historical integrity at play, Mn/DOT project manager Jai Kalsy admits the multi-year discussion is a complicated one, but the rehabilitation versus replacement discussion must be looked at extensively.
“There is the ongoing debate regarding the tandem bridges,” Kalsy said about building a new bridge adjacent to the existing bridge. “But that may affect the historical integrity.”
Kalsy said the current two-lane crossing is functioning properly right now but with the growth of traffic in the future, the bridge would require a four-lane crossing.
“We are looking to compromise so there isn’t an expensive shutdown of the bridge,” Kalsy said. “We need to consider historic impact, historic integrity and the costs. It’s certainly a complicated process.”
Mn/DOT has already shelved the bridge repairs many times before. Even after a four-day bridge shutdown and the implementation of strict weight limits, the Interstate bridge issue has yet to be resolved.
In a 2007 report, Mn/DOT stated the bridge was scheduled for replacement in 2012 but was postponed to 2017 because of funding issues. But in May of 2008, Mn/DOT changed the date again and said replacement was now scheduled for 2014. And this past summer a report stated “the rehabilitation study is still not complete, with Mn/DOT officials stating a preliminary study will be wrapped up in the fall.”
It took several months more research to compile a rehabilitation plan but Kalsy said they are on the right track.
“We are on the cusp of resubmitting the packages to [the State Historic Preservation Office] and we’ll be submitting those in a couple weeks,” Kalsy said.
After receiving the plans, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has 30 days to review and offer suggestions.
“When we hear back, it will give us a good direction of rehab concepts to continue with and conduct a more exhaustive study to look at economics and cost and effects.”
Kalsy said a full rehab study “should be submitted to SHPO by the summer” and after another 30-day review, there can be a final answer as to the rehabilitation or replacement debate.