A construction worker puts the finishing touches on the river marker installed on the southbound lanes of the new I-35W bridge.
Bridge will open earlier than expected
The I-35W Bridge is scheduled to open to public traffic during the week of September 15, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced. That has Twin Cities’ residents excited and focusing on the final touches now that the Republican National Convention ended.
Tom Sorel, Mn/DOT commissioner, said the bridge is built to the "highest possible safety standards and is coming in ahead of schedule. We’re looking forward to seeing motorists using the new bridge next week."
Gov. Tim Pawlenty will hold a news conference on Monday, September 15, 11 a.m., at the bridge to announce the specific opening time and other details.
Under Flatiron’s contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, for each day that the bridge is finished before December 24, up to 100 days, the contractor will receive a $200,000-per-day incentive. The original contract calls for the bridge to be completed by Christmas Eve day.
While one crew paints the bridge piers on the south side of the Mississippi River, another crew grades the area to build the new observation plaza.
Crews continue to apply finishing touches
River marker monuments are in place on the bridge deck at both ends of the bridge to indicate the location of the Mississippi River as drivers cross the bridge. More road signs on the bridge also have been installed.
This week, crews apply the final coats of paint to the bridge’s surface, install and test the high-tech sensor system that monitors various aspects of the bridge for movement and weight, and install the application disks for the anti-ice system that will spray the bridge deck when weather sensors detect potential for ice to form.
Construction continues on the median barriers along the mainline highway while another crew is grinding the bridge deck surface, which gives the concrete a texture to prevent cars from slipping in wet weather. Roadway lights, rail lights and traffic signals are under installation and are being tested.
Work under the bridge will continue after bridge deck opens
PCI is the contractor building concrete medians on the main 35W road. A concrete truck sends concrete into a Gomaco Commander III machine to form the median.
As the roadway is completed on the north side of the river, crews are paving and painting lane stripes on 14th Avenue and Second Street Southeast. On West River Parkway, paving continues as well as replacing the sidewalk and bike trail next to the bridge piers.
Near Pier 2, crews are restoring the Army Corps of Engineers road, installing retaining walls, and building observation plazas surrounding the bases of piers on both sides of the river.
Landscape work along the main highway and the south holding pond near Washington Avenue continues.
Most large construction equipment has been removed from the bridge deck, but crews will continue working seven days a week and nights until the plazas and landscaping are complete. However, cleaning the project site this week will be a priority to open the bridge to public traffic.
Commissioner Sorel said, "The opening of this bridge reconnects our community."