WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) -

Minnesota state lawmakers joined local leaders for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Winona Bridge Friday morning.

The $162 million project includes building a new bridge north of the existing Highway 43 Bridge.

“It's a beautiful bridge,” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said of the existing bridge. “It's on a postage stamp. It's hanging up in my office and we want to preserve that heritage. But at the same time, we know that we really want to allow southern Minnesota to be everything it can. And that means having access to exports, being able to have trucks go over a new bridge, and cars when we're only at an 11,000 per day capacity. This bridge can't handle it.”

The plan is to start construction on a new, two-lane structure on July 21 and then rehabilitate the existing Highway 43 bridge that was built in 1942. Minnesota State Senator Jeremy Miller said when the project is complete in a few years, there will be two lanes of traffic going from Minnesota into Wisconsin and then two lanes coming into Minnesota from Wisconsin.

“It's important to note that it was a collaborative effort between the federal government, the state government, local officials so anytime you get those three groups to work together and get a project like this, it's a success,” Sen. Miller said.

Sen. Miller said the new bridge is expected to take a couple years to build and then another year-and-a-half to two years to rehab the existing structure.