The major project to address the Bong Bridge is a re-decking scheduled to come between 2031-35, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation clarified on Thursday. The new deck would extend the life of the bridge by 40 years, WisDOT said.
The News Tribune reported from Wednesday's Twin Ports Freight Showcase that the Bong Bridge would join the Blatnik Bridge in being repaired or replaced, and regrets the confusion. WisDOT was insistent on Thursday that the Bong Bridge, opened in 1984, is not a candidate to be replaced anytime soon.
"There is nothing currently programmed but (re-decking) is expected to be needed in the future, 20 years (give or take)," WisDOT spokesperson Christena T. O'Brien said.
Re-decking will come at a portion of the cost of a rebuild. Normally, rebuilding the surface, or deck, of a bridge is about half the cost a new bridge. But because the arch on the Bong Bridge is "the big expense," a re-decking of will cost about one-third what a replacement would be, O'Brien said.
The Bong Bridge was a five-year $70 million project started in 1979. It opened to traffic in 1984. At 8,395 feet, it is 425 feet longer than the Blatnik Bridge, which also crosses over the St. Louis River.
Jessica Felix, Northwest Region deputy director for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, described the Bong Bridge on Wednesday as one of three major future projects in the Twin Ports, along with the $343 million Twin Ports Interchange reconstruction project beginning next year and the decision to repair or replace the Blatnik Bridge, a project starting in 2028.
In terms of moving freight and transporting people, the projects are intertwined, she told an audience at the University of Wisconsin-Superior: "They all build on each other."