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New Mississippi River bridge, not just repairs, needed in Winona, mayor says

Winona Mayor Jerry Miller is concerned about transportation needs of the future and thinks state officials should build a new bridge across the Mississippi River, in addition to making repairs on  the historic Hwy. 43 bridge.

An inspection of the bridge found faulty gussett plates (remember the I-35W bridge?) so MnDOT is making plans to rehabilitate the existing bridge, reports the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

They’re not looking at a new bridge but want to fix the existing bridge while retaining historic parts, as per federal regulations, the paper said.

But in a letter to area Congressman Tim Walz, Miller says the city of Winona is looking at the long term and wants a new bridge, too:

“The Winona community supports the construction of a new bridge to meet the purpose needs and other considerations originally defined for the Highway 43 Bridge. This new bridge can be two lanes and can include the rehabilitation of the current bridge for a redundant system of two bridges, each with two lanes.”

Miller expressed frustration:

“This infrastructure project needs to be done today to meet our needs for the next 75 or more years,” he said. “We do not want to see a bridge project which will serve a shorter lifespan.”

“We are concerned that our voices are not being heard in the process of historical review of our current bridge structure,” Miller said.

Walz’s response to the paper doesn’t address the discussion of new and/or historic:

 “I want this bridge fixed so it meets the needs of citizens and businesses in Winona. I will continue to build the coalition to get it done,” he said, in response to a request for comment.

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