Work underway to repair Mississippi River bridge at Lansing

LANSING — The Iowa Department of  Transportation has started work to repair the existing bridge over the Mississippi River from Lansing to Wisconsin. The bridge was closed on February 25th after it was discovered that two of the bridge piers had shifted.

The DOT’s Clayton Burke says the repair plan is to lift the deck off the bridge and set it to the side. “And then we will demolish the existing concrete piers, construct new piers out of steel, and then we’re going to take that deck that we set on the side, lift it back up and set it into place and the original location before the bridge deck moved,” he says. The problem happened near the area where a new bridge is being built, and Burke says that could be part of the reason for the pier shift.

“We’re still investigating all of the different factors that could have played into that. And there’s just so many, it’s hard to tell what exactly caused it,” Burke says. “It’s likely a combination of several factors. But construction definitely could have been one of those factors.” It will take two months to get the existing bridge back open and the D-O-T has been working on alternatives, including a van pool. “That…is intended to help with the cost of the detour so people aren’t spending their own money driving back and forth,” he says. “That is still in the works. And it sounds like could be available as early as next week. We’re also working on a water taxi. And so there’s no infrastructure for car taxi or car ferry.”

The water taxi would take people across the river and then give them a ride in a van. Burke says they have been able to keep most of the work going on the new bridge. They have stopped any deep drilling into the riverbed to avoid vibrations. “We think when the bridge deck is removed from the existing bridge, that’ll be a good opportunity for us to continue some of that work, because we’re not as concerned about those existing piers moving because they’ll be demolished anyway,” he says.

The new bridge won’t be completed until the end of 2026. Burke says around 2,900 people crossed the Lansing bridge each day before it had to be closed.