I-90 Dresbach Interchange Project

Thu January 02, 2014 - Midwest Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A major bridge project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)  recently reached the halfway point, and work is currently on schedule.
A major bridge project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) recently reached the halfway point, and work is currently on schedule.
A major bridge project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)  recently reached the halfway point, and work is currently on schedule. Ames Construction is heading the project, with Benjamin Lovin serving as the project manager. The job was let in October of 2012, for a contract amount of $187,543,070.60. Work started in March of 2013, and all new work is required to be complete by Nov. 15, 2016. The contractor has until June 1, 2017, to remove the existing river bridge. The final interchange configuration will provide full movement with no signals between I-90 and Hwy 61, as well as access to the traveler information center and boat launches from all directions. The project contains significant amounts of concrete structure work and earthwork, so it requires considerable levels of coordination between disciplines to keep all operations moving smoothly and on schedule. Mark W. Anderson, MnDOT project engineer, reported that the scope of work includes grading, concrete and bituminous pavement, retaining walls, lighting, traffic management, ADA improvements, landscaping and nine bridges.


A major bridge project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) recently reached the halfway point, and work is currently on schedule.

Ames Construction is heading the project, with Benjamin Lovin serving as the project manager. The job was let in October of 2012, for a contract amount of $187,543,070.60. Work started in March of 2013, and all new work is required to be complete by Nov. 15, 2016. The contractor has until June 1, 2017, to remove the existing river bridge.

According to MnDOT, the I-90 Bridge spans the Mississippi River between Dresbach, Minn. and La Crosse, Wis. Built in 1967, it is a 2,490 ft. (756 m) -long, four-lane bridge. The existing, fracture-critical bridge has narrow shoulders that cause lane closures when vehicles are stranded or during routine maintenance operations. Current interchange geometry creates difficult and unsafe traffic movements for commuter traffic.

Mark W. Anderson, MnDOT project engineer, reported that the scope of work includes grading, concrete and bituminous pavement, retaining walls, lighting, traffic management, ADA improvements, landscaping and nine bridges.

According to MnDOT, the new crossing will consist of two separate bridges parallel and upstream from the existing bridge. They will be concrete box girder structures over the main river channel and precast concrete girders over the back channel.

The new crossing has a 100-year design life, with a length of 2,593 ft. (790 m) and width of approximately 45 to 66 ft. (13.7 to 20 m). There will be two 12-ft. (3.65 m) lanes in each direction, with an eastbound acceleration lane, 12-ft. (3.66 m) outside shoulders, and 6-ft. (1.8 m) inside shoulders.

The final interchange configuration will provide full movement with no signals between I-90 and Hwy 61, as well as access to the traveler information center and boat launches from all directions. The heavily used westbound I-90 to southbound Hwy 61 will feature a fly-under ramp allowing continuous movement with no competing traffic.

The final configuration will provide safe access for users on a 10-ft. (3 m) trail through the interchange without a single crossing with highway traffic. A modified trail system and pedestrian bridge will connect riders using the Hwy 61 shoulders south of the project to the dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path on the north end of the project. In addition, access will be improved to the rest area/traveler information center for users of the trail.

Anderson discussed some of the challenges.

“The project corridor is between the Mississippi River, the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and active traffic of I-90 and the interchange with Highway 61, along with the bluffs adjacent to I-90,” he said. “I-90 and TH 61 traffic are not allowed to be shut down. There is a Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam nearby along with the commercial river traffic.”

Lovin noted that the project contains significant amounts of concrete structure work and earthwork, so it requires considerable levels of coordination between disciplines to keep all operations moving smoothly and on schedule.

“In order to maintain Interstate 90 and U.S. Hwy 61 traffic through the project, the work is divided up amongst six different stages spread across four construction seasons,” he said. “The last two years have seen winter lasting later than usual into the spring. This has shortened the first two construction seasons of the project and limited water access for construction of the two cast-in-place concrete box girder bridges over the Mississippi River. Crews have had work build these stages under compressed schedules to meet the project objectives.”

The overall length of the project is 1.9 mi. (3 km) of I-90, and 0.9 mi. (1.4 km) of TH 61. It involves approximately 600,000 cu. yd. (45,873 cu m) of excavation, 940,000 cu. yd. (718,681 cu m) of borrow, and nearly 150,000 cu. yd. (114,683 cu m) of concrete.

Major equipment used by Ames Construction includes five dozers, Caterpillar Model D-6T through D-8T; four loaders, Caterpillar Model 966H through 980K; seven excavators, Caterpillar Model 336E through 345D; two compactors, Caterpillar model CS56 and CS433E; three compact track loaders, Caterpillar 299D, Bobcat T630, and T870; 11 cranes, Manitowoc model 222, 10000, 11000, and MLC165, Terex model HC80 and HC230, and Grove model RT600E; six forklifts, Caterpillar TL1055C and DP45, and JLG Skytrak 10054; eight manlifts, JLG model 660SJ, 860SJ, and 1350SJP; a tugboat, and a number of crane barges, material barges, and portable Poseidon.

Subcontractors include Applied Foundation Testing, Green Cove Springs, Fla.; J & L Steel & Electrical Services, Hudson, Wis.; Hanson Custom Crushing Inc., Forest Lake, Min.; Hard Rock Sawing & Drilling Specialists Co., Keshena, Wis.; Central Landscaping Inc., Forest Lake, Minn.; Mathy Construction Co., Onalaska, Wis.; Stonebrook Engineering, Savage, Minn.; H & R Construction Co., Dalton, Minn.; Hoffman & MaNamara, Hastings, Minn.; Interstate Tree Land Clearing Co., Waukesha, Wis.; Action Fence Inc., Burnsville, Minn.; Premier Electrical Corporation, Brooklyn Park, Minn.; Shafer Contracting Co. Inc., Shafer, Minn.; PCI Roads, St. Michael, Minn.; All Phase Contracting, Forest Lake, Minn.; Rainbow, Inc., New Hope, Minn.; Lametti & Sons Inc., Hugo, Minn.; Yaw Construction Group Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.; and Minnesota State-Curb Gutter Division, AVR Inc., Apple Valley, Minn.