MN-DOT is currently improving US-10/US-61 into a full freeway to the
south of I-494 in the southeast corner of the Twin Cities. This
project has 3 phases, first to bring 10/61 up to a full freeway.
This is underway as of July, 2002, and will be completed within a
year or two. Phase 2 is to replace the freeway to freeway interchange
at I-494 and 10/61. The new interchange will take about 4 years to
complete once it is started in 2003. Phase 3 is replacement of the
Wakota Bridge over the Mississippi River. This phase is not funded
yet, but is on the MN-DOT priority list due to the large traffic
backups that happen every day which makes the current bridge a
major choke-point. I owe thanks to Kevin Robokoff for sending these
photos to me.
2003 Update: MN-DOT has started construction on the new bridge. Part
of the north side of the existing Wakota bridge is blocked off, new
approach roads are being built, and piers are being driven into the
riverbed. North of 494, local streets have been realigned, and a
bridge is going in to provide access to the industrial area north
and east of 494. To the east and south, a Bailey road is being blasted
out of the large hill to connect the existing Bailey road with the
Northport area. Work on US-61 is in high gear, with most of the
southbound lane nearing completion, and the SPUI interchange is
2005 Update: US-61 south of I-494 is largely done. Work is focused on
the 61/494 interchange, rebuilding I-494 north, US-61 north, the
connection between the old and new US-61 south of Newport, and
finishing the first span of the bridge.
2005 Newsbreak: MN-DOT reports a major problem on the new Wakota
bridge. Apparently contractors failed to put enough rebar in the
bridge, and it is already cracking and crumbling under its own
weight. Work on the bridge has slowed to a crawl while MN-DOT
investigates and figures out what to do. At first, MN-DOT was
confident the problem was not serious, but now there are rumblings
that the bridge might have to come down.
2006 Update #1: There is a fix for the north span. A series of cables
will be string under high tension between a number of new braces
that are being installed inside the hollow core of the bridge.
This work will take about a year and a half. That will set back
the removal of the exiting bridge. If they miss the winter season
when river traffic is stopped, they will have to wait until the
following winter to do the demolition work. The current bridge
stands where the second span will be built, which is holding up
that work as well. Lets hope the engineering firm that made this
colossal mistake has enough insurance to pay all the damages.
2006 Update #2: The westbound span is open. It first opened as an
entrance ramp, then 6 lanes of traffic was moved onto the bridge.
The old bridge is coming down.
2007 Update: MN-DOT has been unable to agree on a contract price
for the eastbound span, so MN-DOT has canceled the project and
fired the prime contractors, Lunda Construction from Black River
Falls, Wi. Lunda will complete the removal of the old bridge and
finish other construction related tasks, but they will not be building
the new river bridge. MN-DOT hopes to rebid the bridge project.
This will set the project back at least another year.
2007 Update #2: grass has been planted at the west end of the approach
to the unbuilt span. This leads many to suspect that this span will
never be built, or will not be built for many years. This fear was
reinforced after the I-35W bridge collapse and reports from MN-DOT that
other projects may have to be put on the back burner in order to meat
the deadline for the replacement I-35W structure.
2008 Update: MN-DOT requested and opened bids for the 2nd parallel
Wakota Bridge span over the Mississippi River. The low bidder? Lunda
Construction from Black River Falls at just over $60-million. Surprise,
surprise, surprise. This is the same company that was fired from the
project, and their winning bid is almost exactly the bid that MN-DOT
refused to accept a year ago.
2008 Update #2: as of April, construction of the eastbound span is
underway, and the eastbound bridge over US-61 is being completed.
This is the current US-10/US-61 just south of I-494. The
2nd photo is a MN-DOT computer enhanced photo to show what
the new interchange at Glen Road will look like.
This is the existing I-494 Wakota Bridge over the Mississippi River.
These are MN-DOT computer generated images of the new bridge.