RED WING, Minn. (FOX 9) - After two and a half years of construction, the new Highway 63 bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Red Wing opens on Friday, November 22.
The river crossing is officially called the Eisenhower Bridge of Valor and honors the sacrifices of U.S. military service members.
The new bridge is built right alongside the bridge it is replacing. That bridge was also named the Eisenhower Bridge. President Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled to Red Wing in 1960 to cut the ribbon to the bridge along with Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey and Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman.
Ken Bjornstad was just nine years old when President Eisenhower spoke to the crowd hear the Post Office in downtown Red Wing. “The whole block was full of people for that,” Bjornstad remembers. “It was a huge event.”
The old Eisenhower Bridge was a steel truss structure that came under intense scrutiny after the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007. Engineers considered it a fracture critical bridge, and MnDOT decided to replace it.
“After the I-35W bridge fell down, there was a lot of focus on that,” said MnDOT’S Michael Dougherty. “The state legislature came up with a funding program, chapter 152 bonds. So, this is one that came under that category.”
While traffic between Wisconsin and Minnesota will switch to the new structure, construction crews will continue to work on lighting and other aspects of the bridge during the winter.
Demolition work on the old Eisenhower Bridge begins on Monday, November 25.