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MnDOT saves $50 million on bridges, redirects money to freeways

The ‘found’ money will go to I-494 reconstruction, and rebuilding 50 miles of I-90 in southern Minnesota.

State officials say they’ve squeezed a few dollars out of two major bridge projects — $50 million, actually — and will now use the money to make repairs on two interstates.

The money was “found” in design changes to the St. Croix Crossing Bridge project south of Stillwater and in the pending replacement of the Eisenhower Bridge over the Mississippi River in Red Wing.

On the St. Croix, they say they saved $30 million by “advancing parts of the project schedule and enhancing the design of highway bridges on the Minnesota side to reduce project costs.” And in Red Wing, costs were reduced by $20 million “by adjusting the design to meet future capacity needs.”

The funding will now be used on two big freeway projects, one in the metro — on I-494 — and on I-90 in southern Minnesota:

  • MnDOT will reconstruct pavement, replace six bridges, repair 11 bridges and add a general purpose lane from Highway 55 to I-94 on both sides of the road. MnDOT will apply $25 million of the identified savings as well as program funding from the MnDOT Metro District to pay for the $86 million project. This project will start in 2015 and be completed by fall 2016 pending inclusion in the Met Council Transportation Policy Plan.

  •  MnDOT will rebuild 50 miles of pavement on I-90 for $50 million. MnDOT will apply $25 million of the identified savings to augment $25 million of previous state program funding. The improved roadway will have a life span of 35 years or more. The project will start this year and be complete by 2015. It is one of a series of MnDOT projects in that corridor that will improve 100 miles of I-90 pavement by 2018. I-90 is a major freight corridor that runs across southern Minnesota.