LA CRESCENT, Minn. -- It's a multimillion dollar project that's been in the works for five years. Wednesday night, the public weighed in on the Wisconsin and Minnesota departments of transportation’s plan to replace the Interstate-90 Dresbach bridge.
With an estimated $190 million on the line, there was no shortage of opinions.
For Dave Thesing, a new I-90 bridge between Dresbach and La Crosse means one thing.
"A lot of work. It's going to put guys to work. It's going to keep them busy," said Thesing, the business agent for the La Crosse Iron Workers Union. He came out to a public hearing to find out more on the plans to replace the existing 45-year-old bridge.
The current bridge poses some safety concerns, from cracking to narrow shoulders that cause lane closures during routine maintenance.
Design Project Manager Jai Kalsy said the new design would reduce traffic jams and crashes.
"I'm most excited to see the safety improvements here, especially with the interchange, the free-flowing movements rather than having at-grade intersections that are currently featured at the interchange, and really seeing a safety improvement here and congestion improvement as well," said Kalsy.
Another feature of the design showcased at the public hearing is it would allow for the future construction of a bike trail.
"We are installing connections on the river bridge so that in the future, if a bike path does develop going into Wisconsin, that the bike path could be retrofitted under the bridge and it could be suspended below the bridge," said Kalsy.
It's an idea that appeals to Allen Brague, who drives over that bridge every day.
"I'm glad they're keeping in mind a potential bike path down the road. I think a lot of people are interested in that. Even though the demand might not be here now, at least they're making provisions. I think that's a good idea," said Brague.
One part of the project the public had the chance to weigh in on at the hearing was the newly-released Environmental Assessment. Building the new bridge would require filling in several acres of wetland. But MnDOT is balancing that out with a wetland bank they've constructed.
Since it's a border bridge, the cost of the project would be split 50-50 between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Construction could start as soon as this fall.
You can find more information on the project on MnDOT’s website: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/dresbachbridge/