Seven-month-long bridge project underway

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Work on the Marquette-Joliet Bridge connecting Marquette and Prairie du Chien began on March 23. The $6.2 million project is expected to be completed in late October. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Work on the Marquette-Joliet Bridge connecting Marquette and Prairie du Chien began on March 23. The $6.2 million project is expected to be completed in late October.

According to a project proposal from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), work will include deck and parapet (bridge wall) repairs, new pavement and guardrail replacement. 

“The work will consist primarily of removing a concrete overlay from the deck surface, removing and repairing deteriorating concrete from the deck surface and placing a new concrete overlay driving surface,” said Tim Maedke, project manager with the Wisconsin DOT. “Concrete parapets will also be repaired in locations where the concrete is deteriorating.”

Maedke stressed this is not a reconstruction project, but rather a rehabilitation project that is intended to prolong the life of the existing bridge, which opened in 1975.

The bridge will remain open to one lane of traffic throughout construction. Traffic will be controlled by signals. 

“Due to the lengths of the structures, it will be divided into six stages to allow the contractors room to work while keeping motorist delay at a reasonable time,” Maedke said. “Because work zones are long, motorists should expect delays at the traffic signals.”

There will be 16 feet between the bridge parapet and construction barrier, allowing most wider loads to make it through.

“We urge motorists to be patient, follow the traffic controls and slow down in the work zone,” added DOT Public Affairs Officer Michael Bie.

According to the DOT, the Wisconsin portion of the bridge will be completed first. Work on one lane will take approximately one month, followed by one month to complete the other side. Construction will shift to the rest of the bridge around May 19.

Crawford County Highway Commissioner Kyle Kozelka said the Sturgeon Slough parking lot between the Iowa and Wisconsin portions of the bridge will be closed to the public so equipment can park there.

In addition, the DOT said there may be some days when portions of the parking areas under the bridge in Marquette will be closed off through the use of portable fences or flagging operations, preventing damage to vehicles from materials falling from the bridge. Access to the city’s boat launch could also be momentarily restricted. These days will be minimal, however, and areas will never be totally closed. 

DOT personnel have assured the area under the bridge will be cleared for the Marquette flea markets, which are held Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend, Labor Day weekend and the first weekend in October.

During a pre-construction meeting March 19, attendees said the spread of the coronavirus is not currently impacting the work schedule or supplies. Workers will be taking safety precautions and practicing social distancing. The topic will continue to be addressed on a week-to-week basis.

The bridge project is being paid for by a combination of federal funding, as well as funding by the state of Wisconsin and the state of Iowa, said Maedke. The Wisconsin DOT has hired a consultant to administer the project on its behalf. The prime contractor is Zenith Tech, Inc., of Waukesha, Wis.

Ted Pennekamp contributed to this article.

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