The Minnesota Depart­ment of Transportation recently disclosed its initial plans for the replacement of Milan Bridge

The Minnesota Depart­ment of Transportation recently disclosed its initial plans for the replacement of Milan Bridge. A public informational meeting was held last week in Milan where it was revealed that a plain concrete bridge will replace the existing steel bridge in 2019.

Due to historical considerations, MnDOT originally  planned to rehabilitate the aging span at a cost of $2.6 million. However, after Milan area residents raised concerns about the safety and limitations of the current bridge to safely handle the size of modern farm machinery, MnDOT decided it would be best to replace the bridge.

The steel truss bridge was built in 1938 as part of the Works Progress Admini­stration’s area-wide effort to control flooding along the Upper Minnesota River Valley. During the height of the Great Depression, many local and area men found employment through the WPA and worked on projects such as the Milan Bridge and Lac qui Parle dam.

As originally built, the bridge has only 15.9 feet of vertical clearance, and is 27 feet wide. The proposed replacement span will have a width of 36 feet, with no vertical limitations.

Vehicles were much smaller in the 1930s, as were tractors and farm implements. There was simply no way to anticipate the needs of today’s modern transportation and agriculture when the bridge was originally designed and built.

MnDOT is set to award a contract  to replace the bridge on March 22, 2019. The actual date for the beginning of the project is yet to be determined, and may be delayed until the winter of 2019 to avoid the fluctuating water levels of Lac qui Parle Lake during the summer months.

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