Building work winds down

Officials expect to award span superstructure contract in November

A worker does welding on one of the St. Croix Crossing bridge foundation casings resting on a barge in the river Thursday. (Gazette Photo by Avery Cropp)

As the calendar turns to October, the St. Croix Crossing project nears the end of it’s first season with work wrapping up soon on various pier foundations in the St. Croix River and the new Minnesota 36 and 95 interchange.

Pier foundation work is beginning to wind down toward a December completion, weather permitting. So far, concrete has been poured in 20 of the 40 total drilled shafts and all shafts should be finished by early November, according to MnDOT project officials. Crews will then focus on final pier work that includes construction of footing and columns.

“At this point right now, we’ve put in the rebar on some of the piers and the next step will to be fill the casing with concrete,” said Project Director John Chiglo.

Foundation casings that range from 90 to 120 feet long are drilled into the river bedrock, muck and mud is removed from the river bottom and rebar is installed to support the concrete.

After that work, seals are built, embedment is completed, a lowering system is disconnected, the supported piles are removed and a final support system is poured. The cofferdam is then removed from the work site and foundations will be put under the water. Divers responsible for underwater welding and help with lowering the foundations below the river enter the river and help with grouting the concrete. It’s a lot of planning, but Chiglo said he’s been happy the work of Kraemer and Sons Inc., the foundation contractor.

“The contractors do a lot of the logistics when it comes to that. When it comes to innovation and logistics, they handle that side and Kraemer has been great to work with so far,” he said. “They’ve used a lot of innovative methods and ideas to get things done.”

Piers 8 9 and 12 on the Minnesota and Wisconsin shorelines are the key piers that must be completed this year so that the contractor awarded the bridge superstructure contract Nov. 1 can start work on that portion of the project.

Although Chiglo didn’t reveal information concerning bridge bids, he said he expects most bids to come in right before the deadline and he expects Kraemer and Sons Inc. to be one of the bidders.

Chiglo said 80 to 90 people are currently involved with the bridge construction project and 70 with the road construction project and would increase as the end of the season nears. He added that the project has gone smoothly despite this year’s late start due to weather. There have been some reported worker injuries requiring more than a trip to the first aid kit, such as broken bones, stitches or a prescription. The particular injuries reported included hand and facial injuries.

“Our goal is to always have no injuries, and we’ve been working closely with MnOSHA. They’ve been out here every week to help us determine hazards that may exist and change them. Injuries are always very unfortunate when they happen but we’re doing our best to prevent them.” Chiglo said.

More noise complaints have been received about the bridge work, mainly from residents living near construction areas, according to project spokeswoman Jessica Wiens.
“I do follow up with them daily to let them know when we will be finished with that part as well,” she said.

“We’ve had some other concerns come to us about headlights in windows so we’ve made some adjustments as needed,” Chiglo added.

Work on the MN 36 and 95 interchange is also beginning to wrap up with an expected finish date in November. That work includes re-opening reconstructed eastbound MN 36 lanes east of Osgood Avenue; opening the new MN 95 alignment near MN 36, and open at least one of two MN 36 ramps to and from MN 95.

The new Beach Road bridge is expected to open to traffic by the end of November, weather permitting, officials said. The old Beach Road span will be removed in October and crews do not plan on closing MN 36 during that removal process.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]