Construction work on the Bong Bridge linking Duluth and Superior remains on target for fall completion and a Nov. 2 reopening of the eastbound lanes, including the bridge's pedestrian walkway.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation closed the eastbound lanes and one lane westbound in April for the second and final year of the $11 million project. The full project included bridge repairs, the addition of the now-operational roundabout on the Wisconsin-side bridge approach and the repainting of the bridge.
"The project is on schedule," said Matt Dickenson, WisDOT project manager. "So far this season we've had enough good weather to remain on schedule."
The 11,800-foot-long bridge carries U.S. Highway 2 between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ongoing work is the first major maintenance project on the bridge since it opened to traffic in October 1984.
The bridge was closed to westbound traffic during the 2014 construction season. This year, eastbound traffic has been rerouted throughout the spring and summer to the Blatnik Bridge farther north along Interstate 35. The Blatnik carries 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles per day, while about 15,000 vehicles use the Bong Bridge daily.
The Bong Bridge - unlike the Blatnik - also has a walkway for bicyclists and pedestrians. A three-day WisDOT study in May 2014 counted 16 pedestrians and 51 bicyclists using the bridge.
Workers currently are finishing painting the bridge arch and overlaying the deck, which "we'll be doing for some time," Dickenson said.
Remaining work, Dickenson said, includes treating the parapet walls with sealer, adding an epoxy sealer to the bridge walkway and making final electrical installations and connections.
"We have encountered some additional items that needed to be repaired but nothing that would affect the schedule," Dickenson said.