The Winona bridge: Minnesota’s problem

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Highway 43, which crosses the Mississippi at Winona, connects Wisconsin and Minnesota. But there’s been no mention, so far, of any role that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is playing in the decision to close the bridge, stranding commuters — mostly on the Wisconsin side of the river.

In fact, in a news story in the Star Tribune today, one bicyclist complained that there were no Wisconsin authorities to stop him from riding his bike from Wisconsin to Minnesota, but once he reached the other side, the Minnesota State Patrol blocked him from going back across the bridge.

The decision to close the bridge came from Minnesota, the people blocking access to the bridge are from Minnesota, the taxpayers who are going to pay to repair the bridge are from Minnesota, but the most inconvenienced — so far — seem to be the people of Wisconsin.

Why doesn’t Wisconsin have any skin in this game?

Answer: Because the bridge — technically — doesn’t connect Wisconsin and Minnesota. It connects Minnesota with Minnesota.

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“That bridge is entirely in the state of Minnesota,” a Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokeswoman told me today. “There is a bridge just east of there that is under the authority of Wisconsin, but the truss that’s been closed is entirely Minnesota’s responsibility.

The map shows she’s right, of course. While drivers may think they’re crossing one big bridge, they’re crossing two.

  • http://www.greatdiv.com Charlie Quimby

    Excellent fresh perspective.

  • Josh Wurst

    Seems kind of silly to close the bridge to bicyclists. Just a few days ago there were hundreds of cars on the bridge everyday. it seems improbable that it is going to fall down under the weight of a person and a bike.

  • http://www.mnblue.com/ Grace Kelly

    Hmmm, even after the 35W bridge fell, the governor and MNDOT didn’t seem too concerned about bridges until just recently. So why now? Would a bridge falling would mess up the vice presidential chances or Republican National Convention coverage or confirm the need of the legislature to override the governor? Wouldn’t it have been better to plan to replace bridges, instead of waiting until a bridge is so bad that it has to be closed? Would a little bit of maintenance have been better than long disruptions of unplanned bridge closings?