Via the St. Croix Crossing project website:
The Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation this week announced that the St. Croix River Crossing project will be open to traffic by the fall of 2017. In September, MnDOT and WisDOT and the contractor for the project, Lunda/Ames Joint Venture, announced that the original completion date in 2016 was not attainable, and that a new completion date would be set by the end of 2015. The date was determined by analyzing work done to date, and work that remains.
“We believe this new date is well within the project team’s capability to meet,” said Michael Beer, MnDOT’s project director. “It is a large and complex project, and we want to be sure that it is done safely and meets our high standards for quality.”
MnDOT and WisDOT are committed to working with the Lunda/Ames Joint Venture to complete the St. Croix River Crossing project in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. The agencies at this time are not considering legal action against the contractor. At this point, working with the joint venture to resolve the schedule issue will save taxpayer money and reduce total project construction time.
The roadway portions of the project remain on track. Improvements to Highway 36 in Minnesota and Highway 64 in Wisconsin, which will connect to the bridge, are either complete or on-schedule.
About the Bridge Project Delays
Throughout the construction process, the St. Croix River Crossing project has faced a variety of challenges. More details are below.
- Workforce Shortage – The strengthening regional economy has made it challenging for the contractor to find enough skilled and experienced workers for the project.
- Equipment Issues – During the 2015 construction season, the segment shuttle crane at Grey Cloud casting yard broke down several times, delaying the movement of segments onto the barges. Each breakdown caused delays lasting from one day to one week. In July, the segment lifter broke down on Pier 9, so segments couldn’t be erected. This caused an additional week-long delay. Much of this specialized equipment is unique to this project.
- Project Complexity – The 3,200 foot span crosses over the federally protected St. Croix River. The complexity and length of the bridge has slowed progress.
- Material Shortages – Acquiring the necessary concrete forms to make the segments for the bridge was delayed five months in 2014. Only two American companies make these forms, and the selected company’s owner died and the company subsequently lost its lead engineer. The timing of these events caused the company to delay fabrication of the forms.
- Weather Delays – Minnesota typically has an eight-month construction season, at the longest. The St. Croix River experienced high water levels in spring 2014, which was a key time in the construction of the bridge piers. The high water caused a two-week delay. Progress was further slowed in 2014 when winter arrived early. This year’s relatively mild winter has helped improve the schedule.