A two-year strengthening project on the Oliver Bridge that has seen the passage between Minnesota and Wisconsin closed during daytime hours for construction is nearing an end.
"We expect the road will be open permanently starting at the end of the day Tuesday," said Canadian National Railway spokesman Patrick Waldron.
Users of the bridge that crosses over the St. Louis River have been limited to early morning and evening travel to accommodate a project that started in spring 2016.
Once referred to by CN in the News Tribune as "a multi-million-dollar project," the Oliver Bridge upgrades are part of $1.6 billion spent by CN systemwide on its rail improvement campaign. CN owns the bridge.
The 107-year-old, 1,935-foot, double-deck Oliver Bridge is noted for the way it carries rail traffic above a two-lane roadway - at a rate of about 20 trains a day between the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood and Oliver.
Waldron listed the series of improvements CN made to the bridge, including:
• Full replacement of two 90-foot spans at the east and west ends of the bridge
• Steel strengthening of 30 bridge spans
• Full replacement of the 47-foot-long Span 1 on the east end of the bridge
• Installation of 1,708 linear feet of new solid timber deck to carry the rail line
"The focus was to make sure we were done by the holiday," Waldron said, referring to Thanksgiving. "We're right on time in terms of the time period we told people we were going to be done with work and interferences with the road."
Final construction will be taking place even after the roadway is fully reopened to traffic. Waldron estimated that more than 90 percent of the work has been completed.
During construction, the roadway was kept open throughout the summer holidays, but in each of the past two construction seasons it generally has been closed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.