Projects create headaches for area commuters

MnDOT begins Lift Bridge repairs; I-694 paving work reaches Minnesota 36

Gazette photo by Erik Sandin
The lift section of the Stillwater Lift Bridge begins lowering Monday afternoon after a boat passed under it. MnDOT closed the span was closed to all traffic early Monday as workers continued a repair and rehabilitation project on the bridge that is expected to be done in late November.

St. Croix Valley commuters said their travel headaches became more painful Monday as the Stillwater Lift Bridge was closed for three months of repairs and the Interstate 694 resurfacing project reached the Minnesota Highway 36 overpass in Pine Springs.

MnDOT closed the Lift Bridge at 12:01 a.m. Monday and crews started work on the two-lane span. The project, which started in July, should be completed by the end of November.

It likely is the last time MnDOT  would work on the Lift Bridge until the new St. Croix Crossing span opens and the Lift Bridge is turned into a pedestrian and bicycle crossing, MnDOT’s St. Croix Crossing project manager Jon Chiglo told the Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

Downtown Stillwater traffic was noticeably lighter Monday with the Lift Bridge closed to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bridge repairs focus on the steel connections, concrete surfaces, floor beams, repairing and replacing mechanical and electrical components, replacing guardrails, curb and gutter and painting portions of the span.

“Once that project is complete, that’s all the work on that bridge until  the new bridge opens,” Chiglo told commissioners.

Chiglo added that MnDOT would continue operating the lift to allow navigation on the St. Croix River when the Lift Bridge closes after the new St. Croix River Bridge opens.

“As part of that process, it’s required to be operational,” he said.

As some Valley motorists were dealing with the Lift Bridge closure, motorists on MN 36 and I-694 faced lane closures that started late last week allowing crews to continue repaving I-694 and repair the freeway overpass at MN 36.

The right lane of westbound MN 36 between State Highway 120, Century Avenue and Hilton Trail was closed Friday morning and the right eastbound lane of MN 36 between MN 120 and Hilton Trail closed at 11 p.m. Friday. The lane also closes at this time through Thursday.

Westbound MN 36 reopens Friday afternoon and eastbound MN 36 reopens by noon Saturday. Next week, the right lane of eastbound MN 36 reopens by noon each day.

Crews are also continuing grading work on eastbound-southbound I-694 and signal work on Century and White Bear avenues.

Traffic will be reduced to a single lane in both directions on I-694 through the end of October for resurfacing. Clean-up and temporary lane closures during non-peak times will continue into early November.