MARQUETTE, Iowa — Construction soon will conclude on one section of a multi-bridge repair project that spans the Mississippi River, with remaining work expected to be completed before winter.

A concrete overlay replacement on the Marquette-Joliet Bridge, which connects Marquette and Prairie du Chien, Wis., via U.S. 18, should be finished by Aug. 1, according to Ralph Liegel, project leader with Jewell Associates Engineers.

Liegel’s company is overseeing construction for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The primary contractor for the project is Zenith Tech.

“Basically, they took out all the deteriorated areas in the deck and paved them back in and put a full overlay over the top of it,” said Liegel.

The bridge is one of several nearby receiving similar updates.

A motorist traveling from Marquette to Prairie du Chien on U.S. 18 crosses multiple bridges: the Marquette-Joliet Bridge over the main channel of the Mississippi, a bridge over the east channel and the eastbound of two bridges near the Prairie du Chien Chamber of Commerce. All four bridges are slated for concrete overlay replacement.

The project began in March 2020 with the bridge over the east channel, which Liegel said was completed in June 2020. Work then began on the Marquette-Joliet Bridge over the main channel, but it could not be completed before winter.

“(The Marquette-Joliet Bridge) was a little bit more intense as far as the deterioration in it,” he said. “Because of the severity ... it took a little longer to do it.”

Liegel said Zenith Tech plans to complete the final paving on the bridge this week, with cleanup, surface treatment and lane markings to follow.

During construction, traffic on the bridge has been reduced to one lane, controlled by temporary traffic signals.

Marquette Mayor Stephen Weipert said the work caused minimal disruption to traffic flow.

“They’ve done a nice job with lights on it and alternating going through, and it’s really not a problem, except on the weekends, when it backs up a little,” he said.

Weipert said the city looks forward to the improved bridge.

“We don’t have to worry about all of the holes in it anymore,” he said. “There were instances where some of the cement would be falling off the bottom of it on Marquette’s side. It was never a danger of the bridge falling in, but it was just an inconvenience.”

As work concludes on the main channel bridge, Liegel said, construction already has started on the bridges by the Prairie du Chien Chamber of Commerce. Lunda Construction Co. is handling repairs.

The eastbound bridge is currently closed, with the westbound bridge open to bi-directional traffic. When the eastbound bridge is done, work on the westbound bridge will be completed one lane at a time.

Liegel said construction on those bridges should be finished by mid-October.

Total project costs were initially projected at $6.2 million, but Liegel said the intensive work on the Marquette-Joliet Bridge will increase the cost. He is not yet sure how significant the increase will be.

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