Winona bridge proposal one step closer - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Winona bridge proposal one step closer

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- The historic river bridge crossing the Mississippi River from Wisconsin to Winona has stood strong for 70 years.  However, just in the last decade it has been a topic of discussion being declared structurally inefficient in 2008.

At the Winona Armory, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has whittled down four proposed plans to just one.

"The recommended option includes building a new two-lane bridge on the upstream side of the existing bridge," said Project Manager Jai Kalsy.  "And then touching it down in the same locale at the current intersection of 4th and Winona."

Some say that intersection is too busy.

"At the present time there is practically no parking at the 'Y' (YMCA)," said Winona resident Mac McCauley.  "The trucks are ruining -- they're going by all the time. Hundreds of them. And they'll be worse when the new bridge is in."

Others say it's the best option so far. "But given the benefits I think it outweighs the negative impact of the historic structure of the bridge," said resident Owen Warneke.

Warneke, who also happens to be an architect, has lived in Winona for 35 years.  "I agree with MnDOT's conclusions; that the west location of the existing bridge is probably the most viable and the best for the community," he said.

But at what cost?

"The cost estimate is anywhere between 150 to 170-million dollars," said Project Manager Jai Kalsy.  "That's a total project cost estimate which includes design, engineering cost and also right-of-way acquisition."

The funding sources for the bridge include federal funding sources and state bonding dollars.

So it stays, for now.  As community members, MnDOT, and admirers work to bridge the gap between their differences.

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