MASON CITY, Iowa – Sept. 5, 2023 – The Mississippi River bridge connecting Iowa Highway 9 in Lansing, Iowa, to Wisconsin Highway 82 in rural Crawford County, Wisconsin stands as an icon for the region. A new icon is in the works to replace this aging structure and improve your safety and mobility as you move around the area.
You may have heard of this impressive cantilever bridge referred to as the Black Hark Bridge. The structure has served the area since 1931 with a closure from 1945 to 1957 when the crossing was damaged by ice dams. Depreciation over time and changing vehicle size and traffic patterns now call for a new, wider, safer crossing.
Working with area residents and interest groups through public meetings and other outreach efforts, the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation are proud to get started on a new, safe, functional, and beautiful bridge that will serve the area for generations. Federal funding will cover approximately 80 percent of the $140 million cost of the bridge. The states of Iowa and Wisconsin will evenly split the remaining costs.
Why does the current bridge need to be replaced?
A lot of data has been collected related to the current structure. Here are just a few conclusions from the analysis of this data: • Structural condition – The current bridge rates as low for its structure. This limits commercial traffic and is impacting freight movement in the region. • Geometry – The tight turn where Iowa 9 intersects in Lansing makes it difficult for truck traffic, also impacting freight movement in the region. • Safety - The deck is narrow at only 21 feet and has no shoulders. This gives no room for motorists with mechanical trouble to pull over safely. Any crash or other incident will likely close the bridge completely. • Ride - The old bridge has a steel grate deck that provides a very rough ride. The steel grates were difficult for our winter maintenance crews to remove snow and ice. • Navigation - The 650-foot width of the navigation channel is problematic for barges.
What can you expect from the new bridge?
In addition to collecting a lot of data about the current bridge, we’ve also held several meetings and listened to area residents as they told us what is important to them about the old bridge and what they expect with the new one.
• Design – The existing bridge is a beloved structure in the region. The new bridge was thoughtfully designed to mimic the look of the existing bridge. • Geometry – The Iowa 9 intersection in Lansing will be upgraded to allow for safer truck travel. • Safety - The new bridge will have wider lanes and eight-foot-wide shoulders (40 feet total), greatly increasing safety. • Ride - The new bridge will have a smooth, concrete deck that will protect the superstructure from winter maintenance treatments. • Navigation – The navigation channel will be increased to 750 feet, making it easier for barges to get through the area.
When will the work on the bridge take place?
Some environmental work is underway now to catalog and relocate mussels in the Mississippi River near the old bridge. Other preliminary work may begin this year.
The bulk of the construction work for the new bridge will take place alongside the old bridge beginning in 2024 and running through 2026. The old bridge will remain in use during this time.
In 2026, the roads that connect to the new bridge will be constructed and there will be a few weeks when traffic will be detoured as those connections are made.
The new bridge is expected to be fully functional in 2027 and the old bridge will be removed.
How can you learn more?
The Iowa and Wisconsin DOTs have developed a website where you can get the latest information and sign up to receive progress updates via email.
You can also follow posts on the project’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LansingBridge/
You can also email the project team at DOT-Iowa9bridge@iowadot.us.