DOT gears up for Bong Bridge overhaulThe Bong Bridge connecting Duluth and Superior gets its first major maintenance effort in 2014. The work is expected to take two years, will close one side of the bridge each year and cost between $15 million and $20 million.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The Bong Bridge connecting Duluth and Superior gets its first major maintenance effort in 2014. The work is expected to take two years, will close one side of the bridge each year and cost between $15 million and $20 million.
In the first year construction work would close traffic bound for Duluth from Superior, then the second year to Superior-bound vehicles.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Project Development Supervisor Dave Ostrowski says the two-year plan is the most practical proposal.
“We looked at trying to do this in one construction season and just the volume of work is such that we’d be taking too much of a chance,” he said. “We don’t think we’d be able to get it done. The bridge is over a mile long ... That volume of work, given the weather conditions here, you just don’t get a long enough construction season.”
The bridge is 8,395 feet long, 425 feet longer than the Blatnik Bridge.
Traffic will detour to the Blatnik Bridge. The Bong Bridge has about 15,000 vehicles cross it each day while the Blatnik has 20,000 to 30,000 trips, but with a much higher capacity. Ostrowski says the detoured traffic can be handled easily on the Blatnik Bridge.
He says the project will also include new lighting, new signs, new sidewalks and new pavement.
“We get a new deck overlay. That really helps keep the salt out of the steel in the bridge. It actually even draws out some of the chloride ions that are down in the deck which can extend the life of the bridge which saves us all money in the long run.”
Ostrowski says he knows many businesses in Superior and Duluth will be hurt when the Duluth-bound traffic is diverted in 2014 and the Superior-bound in 2015.
So they’re holding a public meeting on Oct. 12 at WITC in Superior.
“We like to get that public feedback, just hear people’s thoughts,” Ostrowski said. “We’d be doing the westbound (to Duluth) first. Maybe there’s something we didn’t think of, something we’re missing. Maybe we need to do eastbound first, things like that. We want to get as much public input as we can.”
The meeting is 5-7 p.m. at the WITC Conference Center, Superior.
The Bong Bridge, named after World War II ace pilot Maj. Richard Bong of Poplar, opened almost 27 years ago and has only had minor maintenance work during that time.
Representatives from WisDOT and its project consultant, Ayres Associates Inc., will be on hand to answer questions and discuss project specifics.
For information, contact WisDOT Project Manager, Matt Dickenson at (715) 395-3022 or David Pantzlaff of Ayres Associates at (715) 834-3161.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.