How can anyone not be impressed by the new I-35W bridge? In relatively no time at all, construction crews have created a new bridge where the August 2007 tragedy occurred.
On Saturday the final span of the northbound lane of the new 35W bridge was moved into place. The southbound lane will be completed this week. A MnDOT release today says University Avenue over I-35W will be closed Thursday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday while the entrance and exit ramps are paved with concrete. Crews are working 24-hours a day.
The new bridge will cost an estimated $234 million. The construction company has $27 million in incentives to finish the job this year. The rapid pace (See live Webcam) has many “sidewalk superintendents” raising their eyebrows, but officials insist no corners are being cut.
Downstream? Not so much.
This is the eastbound lane of the “new Wakota bridge,” a project that started in 2002 and won’t be completed until 2010. It’ll take 8 years to completely replace the aging bridge which was knocked down when the eastbound span was finally completed in 2006, four years after construction started. A design error in the new span forced some emergency repairs, a design change, and a new construction bidding process.
While an army of construction workers are scurrying around the I-35W bridge project, this afternoon only a small handful of workers were on the South St. Paul side of the bridge, driving pilings.
The cost of the entire project? When it’s done — if there are no more cost overruns — it’ll run about $300 million — $66 million and 7 years more than its new cousin upstream.