Dresbach Bridge: La Crosse, Wisconsin to rural Winona County, Minnesota

The New Bridge

The new crossing will consist of two separate bridges parallel and upstream from the existing bridge. They will be concrete box girder structures over the main river channel and precast concrete girders over the back channel.

main-span

Details:

  • 100 year design life
  • Length: 2593 ft
  • Width: approximately 45-66 ft
  • Two twelve-foot lanes each direction
  • Eastbound acceleration lane
  • Twelve-foot outside shoulders
  • Six-foot inside shoulders

Cost

  • $187.5 million

Project purpose

The primary purpose of the project is to provide a new structurally sound I-90 river crossing bridge that meets current structural and geometric standards on an important regional river crossing, and to provide a reconstructed interchange that improves traffic safety, capacity and access on and between Highway 61/14 and I-90.

In addition to the highway issues being addressed, the project faces many competing interests of varying sensitivity, including lock and dam access, Traveler Information Center/Rest Area access, river user access, US Fish and Wildlife Refuge, environmentally sensitive bluffs, railroad corridor, proximity to the airport and river navigation channel, and the Mississippi River Bicycle Trail.

Visual quality

To safely accommodate all of the desired movements, the interchange will look drastically different when completed. However, great effort was made to ensure that the resulting bridge and interchange will fit into the beautiful surroundings created by the bluff and river environment. A Visual Quality Team met during the design phase of the project to guide decisions toward a natural fit into the project setting. Stone patterns and colors were selected for the structural elements matching the surrounding limestone rocks in the bluffs. The visual quality design intends to draw attention to the landscape by minimizing the Visual impact of the interchange features.

Final elements of this design goal include:

  • Concrete color finish to complement surrounding limestone bluffs
  • Bridge pier shapes honoring the shape of local trees
  • Bridge type that does not compete with views
  • Open bridge rail allowing river views
  • Subtle accent lighting preserving the natural lighting environment

This bridge alone has 53,000 cubic yards of concrete consisting of 6 different mix designs that utilized a combination of different chemicals for different performance requirements. ConAir air entrainment was used throughout the project for freeze thaw durability. UltraFlo 5600 high range water reducer was incorporated into mixes that required a low water cement ratio in order to provide a pump-able and workable mix. ProLong L hydration stabilizer was used to extend the pot life of mixes as well as control the hydration and set characteristics of the concrete. In cold weather NitroCast K was used to accelerate the concrete, and finally OptiFlo 50 low range water reducer was used in standard mixes for additional strength.