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MnDOT Completes International Bridge Replacement

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced that it had completed the $39.3 million replacement of the Baudette/Rainy River International Bridge. The infrastructure connects north-central Minnesota and Ontario.

The project’s completion was announced on Oct. 13.

About the Project

Originally built in 1959 by Barnett-McQueen Ltd., the 1,283-ft, six-span steel Pennsylvania truss bridge connects state Route 72 and Ontario Highway 11, consisting of one lane of traffic in each direction, and 5.9-foot-wide sidewalk. While the old structure is touted as rare, its historic nature made it eligible in the United States for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

However, because the U.S. only owns half the bridge and Canadian officials did not consider the bridge to be historic, it was not restored, nor listed.

In 2018, the MnDOT, in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, announced that it would instead be constructing a new bridge. The project promised a safer, longer-lasting bridge and included plans for a bigger walkway for pedestrians and bicyclists.

"It is the only border crossing for 50 miles in either direction," Joe McKinnon, MnDOT Project Manager, said in a statement. "This portion of the Rainy River is approximately 1,200 feet wide. It is also a popular fishing spot year-round. Construction has been limited during sturgeon spawning times, and provisions were made during construction to allow for fishing boat traffic safety."

According to Transport Topics, Edmonton, Alberta-based engineering and architecture firm, Stantec, was responsible for the project’s preliminary and environmental designs. Parsons Transportation Group (Washington D.C.) developed the final design for the bridge and Lunda Construction Company (Black River Falls, Wisconsin) worked as the project’s contractor.

Some additional 90 stakeholders were also involved in addressing environmental, construction, border and historical concerns involving the new bridge’s construction.

“The design is a typical steel-girder and cast-in-place concrete deck,” McKinnon said. “The reinforcing steel in the deck is stainless steel as an effort to create a longer life span of the deck surface, before a deck rehabilitation project would need to be done in the future.”

The MnDOT reports that construction began in 2019, involving the construction of abutments on the Minnesota and Ontario shorelines, the construction of four piers in the Rainy River, and steel beam placement. This year, crews completed the construction of the concrete bridge deck and new road approaches on both sides to the new bridge alignment.

Now completed, the new structure is a 1,350-foot-long, five-span continuous haunched steel-girder bridge, consisting of one lane in each direction and a six-foot-wide sidewalk on one side.

Although restrictions on cross-border travel remain in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, drivers providing essential services, including truck drivers who regularly cross the border to keep goods flowing, are exempt from quarantine requirements and have been approved to travel across.

What Now

Representing a partnership between MnDOT and the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, the bridge is slated to be maintained by both agencies.

“The design of the new bridge has enhanced safety, is of more durable construction and requires minimal long-term maintenance,” said Natasha Tremblay, spokesperson for the Minister of Transportation’s office. “The bridge can accommodate commercial vehicles and can support full highway traffic loading, including pedestrians and cyclists.”

Next, crews are slated to perform demolition on the old bridge later this month, weather permitting. This part of the project is expected to take between three and four months, with removal slated to continue into summer 2021 due to winter shutdowns.

Additional work on the new structure to be completed in summer 2021 includes the removal of underwater structures, girder coating applications, the installation of a special surface on the structure’s concrete, the removal of the dock wall and turf establishment.

MnDOT is slated to host a virtual celebration commemorating the completion of the bridge replacement on Oct. 28. The virtual event agenda includes a ten-minute video of the project, as well as attendance by representatives from MTO, MnDOT, Stantec, Parsons and Lunda Construction.

An in-person ribbon-cutting ceremony is tentatively scheduled for fall 2021.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Completed projects; Infrastructure; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America

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