MnDOT shares good, bad news on NU Gateway project

Bridge work stops due to high water

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Lots of work remains to be done on the Minnesota River Bridge as seen from Minnecon Park. River water levels have been above flood stage much of the time since March and much of last year.

MANKATO — High water levels on the Minnesota River at New Ulm have halted work this summer on the new river bridge that is part of the New Ulm Gateway (Highway 14/15) project.

Construction on the Minnesota River bridge experienced delays in 2018 due to high river levels. Work stopped in March of 2019 due to high water levels, according to the Minnesota Highway Department (MnDOT) District 7 Office.

The access road for the bridge project is about five feet under water and a barge cannot be secured at current river levels, according to a MnDOT update sent Friday.

“We need the Minnesota River to fall below 795 feet to resume bridge work,” said MnDOT Construction Supervisor Todd Kjolstad. “We don’t see that level in the current forecast, but hope it is before the end of July so we can complete the bridge this year.”

The Minnesota River level at New Ulm was observed at 799.74 feet at 1:45 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service. Flood stage is 800 feet.

MnDOT webcam photo This is a photograph of the Minnesota River Bridge taken Friday from a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) webcam at the New Ulm Gateway project.

The river level is forecast to slowly fall to 798 feet by Wednesday, July 17 and remain at that level for several days, according to the NWS.

The good news about the project is that early completion of the Highway 14/15 interchange could be in mid to late August, which would alleviate motorists from using the current lengthy detour.

Much of the interchange concrete work is done. The bridge is near completion and asphalt paving should take place soon, according to MnDOT.

For now, traffic continues to be detoured to Nicollet County Road 5 (Fort Road) and Nicollet County Road 12 and Nicollet County Road 21 between Courtland and Nicollet.

The New Ulm Gateway project addresses intersection safety, aging bridges, poor pavement conditions and occasional road flooding around New Ulm. Construction began in 2017. Most of the work and detours are taking place in 2018 and 2019.

Project progress can be seen on a web cam at www.mndot.gov/newulm

For updated road information, call 511 or visit www.511mn.org

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

COMMENTS