Ramp off the Dresbach Bridge will close April 15 - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

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Ramp off the Dresbach Bridge will close April 15

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LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WXOW) – Drivers wanting to head to La Crescent from Wisconsin will take a little longer to get there.

As of Tuesday, April 15, drivers looking to use exit 276, exiting westbound I-90 to La Crescent, will be forced to make a detour.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is closing down the ramp, making way for a new one, along with a new Dresbach Bridge.

That off ramp will be closed until 2016. But the new bridge project is expected to last a lifetime.

"Projects like this are few and far between,” said Ben Lovin, project manager for Ames Construction.

Right off I-90, heading toward La Crescent, people can see the Dresbach bridge now and what it will become. Crews built the steel design of the original bridge in the 1960's.

"So if one of the members was to fail, it's possible the bridge could collapse. So Minnesota is getting rid of all those types of bridges—the fracture critical,” said Mark Anderson, construction manager for MnDOT for the Dresbach Bridge Project.

That's why MnDOT is building the new, concrete bridge, according to Anderson. It will stand a little north of the current site and is much sturdier. It should last 100 years, he said.

"Technologically we've come a long ways and engineering controls during construction have come a long ways,” Lovin added.

But the changes come with closing the ramp into La Crescent for two years.

Starting April 15, the ramp will be closed at Exit 276, going westbound on I-90. Drivers will need to take a detour to the Dresbach exit 273 B&A to eastbound I-90 to get to La Crescent. That detour is about 6 miles—an extra 10 minutes of travel time, according to MnDOT.

Another improvement when the new ramp opens at Exit 276, it will have no stop signs nor traffic lights leading into the city, Anderson said.

Lovin said his teams are at the mercy of the Mississippi River. With snow melting and spring rain, they are constantly pumping water from dams. The water current and water levels do make them prone to flooding.

"An opportunity to work on a project of this scope, across a major river like the Mississippi—it's a treat,” Lovin said.

For crews, the Dresbach Bridge Project project is once in a lifetime. And after construction is complete, they said it should last that long, too.

The new bridge and ramp, along with the Travel Information Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Boat Launch will reopen in 2016.

The entire project is expected to wrap in 2017 when crews take down the current bridge. To keep up-to-date on the project, visit MnDOT.gov/DresbachBridge.
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