A new proposed plan could be a pain for some drivers heading through Dubuque. The Iowa Department of Transportation wants to close the Julien Dubuque bridge over the Mississippi and detour drivers through Wisconsin. That is just one of the options the Iowa Department of Transportation is considering for when it closes the bridge in 2014 for what they call a rehabilitation.
The primary repair to the bridge will be replacing the bridge's deck joints, which are reaching the end of their design life. But work will also be done to seal the barrier rail, make concrete repairs and work on the bridge piers and fenders. But it's the work done on the bridge's deck joints that may force a detour.
Art Gourley is an engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation out of Dyersville, he says 20,000 people drive on the Julien Dubuque bridge daily. He says, in order to get deck joints repairs done correctly, he expects a there will need to be a detour.
"We expect that a detour will be needed for about 10 working days to get the repairs completed on the bridge deck." Gourley said.
That detour would close the bridge for 10 business days with a detour route using highways 61/151, Wisconsin 11, and Illinois 35. The DOT expects that to be a six mile detour. But there are also other options the DOT is considering in the bridge's rehabilitation process. The Iowa Department of Transportation is also considering weekend closures of Saturday and Sunday on the bridge, which would span 6-8 weekends of full closure. They are also considering having the bridge go down to just one lane and using a pilot vehicle to take cars across the bridge.
"The Iowa DOT And the city of Dubuque both think the preferred option for traffic control will be to close the bridge and implement the detour and get everything done much quicker." Gourley said.
Thursday evening the Iowa Department of Transportation held a public forum about the proposed closure. Similar to the DOT, many people agreed a shorter, full closure of the bridge would be better.
Robin kennicker is a resident of Dubuque. Although she says she doesn't use the bridge very often, she knows many people do and she would like the process of a closure to be as frustration free as it can for those people.
" I want to see the bridge taken care of right away, as soon as possible, within hopefully 10-12 business days because the fact that so many people travel that bridge." kennicker said.
"I also believe that to if weather is permitting, we can get it done right away the better off. It will be better for the businesses on both sides of the bridge and the less impact it will have on the drivers." Kennicker said.
The Iowa Department of Transportation hopes the bridge will be completed (as far as traffic closures) by Memorial Day 2014.