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High water halts construction of new Blackhawk Bridge at Lansing, planned traffic closures will not happen this week

LANSING, Iowa –  The Iowa Department of Transportation says planned intermittent closures of the Blackhawk Bridge across the Mississippi River at Lansing that were previously planned for this week will not be happening because high water on the river has forced a stop to construction.

A previous Iowa DOT post on social media stated that starting the week of June 17, weather permitting, crews will continue work on constructing a new pier and driving the pier foundation for the new bridge that will replace the current bridge. They said that work would require intermittent traffic closures of up to two hours on the existing bridge between the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They went on to say that the closures are necessary to reduce vibration from construction activity and traffic, limiting the chance of damage occurring.

The DOT now says because high water has stopped work on the new bridge the traffic closures on the old bridge will also be delayed. The DOT said they had hope to resume work on the new bridge by June 24 but that will depend on water levels.

High water causing delays in construction on the new Blackhawk Bridge across the Mississippi River at Lansing, Iowa – Iowa DOT photo

The construction of the new bridge has had its share of hiccups. The existing bridge had to be closed this spring due to movement in the bridge caused by the driving of pilings into the river bed for the new bridge right next to the old bridge. You can read previous story about the closure here. The closure of the bridge forced the Iowa and Wisconsin DOT to provide a passenger water taxi service for commuters and tourists from about the middle of March until about the middle of April while construction crews worked to stabilize the old bridge.

The existing bridge is over 90 years old and the new bridge will be designed to mimic the look of the old one. According to the Iowa and Wisconsin DOT the more than 1,700-foot Mississippi River Bridge connecting Iowa Highway 9 in Lansing, Iowa to Wisconsin Highway 82 in rural Crawford County, Wis. stands as an icon for the region. You may have heard of this impressive cantilever bridge referred to as the Black Hawk Bridge. The structure has served the area since 1931 with a closure from 1945 to 1957 when it was damaged by ice dams. The DOT goes on to say depreciation over time and changing vehicle size and traffic patterns now call for a new, wider, safer crossing.

High water causing delays in construction on the new Blackhawk Bridge across the Mississippi River at Lansing, Iowa – Iowa DOT photo

The new bridge will have wider lanes and eight foot wide shoulders that will greatly increase safety, and it will have a smooth, concrete deck that will protect the structure from winter maintenance treatments. The navigation channel under the bridge will also be increased making easier for barges to get through the area.

Construction began last fall and the bulk of the construction work for the new bridge will take place alongside the old bridge from 2024 through 2026. The old bridge will remain in use during this time. The new bridge is expected to be fully functional in 2027 at which point the old bridge will be removed.

The DOT says federal funding will cover approximately 80 percent of the $140 million cost of the bridge, with the rest split between Iowa and Wisconsin.  

For more information about the construction project, to sign up for construction alerts or to see a livestream of the bridge you can go to the Iowa and Wisconsin DOT website. Or follow the project on the Facebook page.

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