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Bipartisan push for emergency bridge repair funding from Biden Administration

The letter from the Senators said over 2,000 people rely on the bridge to do their work each day and there are no other nearby detours.

Bipartisan push for emergency bridge repair funding from Biden Administration

Source: Iowa Department of Transportation

March 14, 2024 2:07 PM CDT
By: Jimmie Kaska

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CRAWFORD COUNTY, Wis. (WLCX) – Senators from Wisconsin and Iowa wrote a letter to the Biden Administration Thursday seeking the release of emergency federal funding to repair the bridge linking Crawford County, Wis. with Lansing, Iowa.

The Lansing Bridge, also known as the Black Hawk Bridge in Wisconsin, has been closed since Feb. 25 after work on its replacement bridge shifted two piers.

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) co-authored a letter to U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Highway Administration Administrator Shailen Bhatt about the situation.

“The bridge’s closure impacts thousands of Wisconsinites and Iowans, with an estimated 2,200 vehicles previously crossing the bridge daily, and there are limited other options for crossing the river,” the Senators wrote. “We strongly support the efforts to get the existing bridge reopened and request that FHWA continue to work with the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation to restore traffic on this bridge as soon as possible.”

With the closure, motorists have to drive over an hour out of the way to cross the Mississippi by traveling north to La Crosse, Wis. or La Crescent, Minn. or south to Prairie du Chien, Wis. or Marquette, Iowa.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation on Feb. 29, a few days after the bridge closed, freeing up a pool of emergency repair funds that will help pay the cost of repairing the old bridge through most of March. The Iowa DOT submitted a request for emergency funding through the Federal Highway Administration on March 4, which was acknowledged a day later with no further action.

The Iowa DOT said that they expect work to fix the 93-year-old bridge will take up to two months. DOT officials said that the bridge won’t reopen until it’s safe for public use. Large sections of the bridge deck are being removed during the repairs, meaning no traffic of any kind is being allowed across the bridge.

A replacement bridge is already under construction and is set to open in the fall of 2026. DOT officials said that construction caused the existing bridge piers to move.

The current bridge was constructed in 1931. The new bridge will cost $140 million, with about 80% coming from federal funding and the rest split between Wisconsin and Iowa. Work began last fall on the new bridge.

You can read the full letter from the Senators here.

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