Julien Dubuque bridge closures cause traffic congestion - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Julien Dubuque bridge closures cause traffic congestion

Posted: Updated:
A worker places a sign, launching the 10-day Julien Dubuque/US Highway 20 bridge closure A worker places a sign, launching the 10-day Julien Dubuque/US Highway 20 bridge closure

It's official: The Julien Dubuque/U.S. Highway 20 bridge connecting Iowa to Illinois over the Mississippi River is now closed for 10 days.

The Iowa Department of Transportation closed all lanes around 6 a.m. Monday in order to start repairs.

Normally, getting over the bridge takes right around one minute. The 10-day detour, however, takes drivers over the Mississippi River on the nearby Highway 151/61 bridge into Wisconsin.

People take the first exit and then follow the signs along Wisconsin Highway 11 and Wisconsin-Illinois Highway 35 into downtown East Dubuque, Ill.

KWWL reporter Becca Habegger drove the detour at 7:30 a.m. Monday to see how much time the detour adds.

Going from one side of the bridge in Dubuque to the other side, via the detour, in East Dubuque took just under 11 minutes. Returning to Dubuque from East Dubuque took even longer, at just under 19 minutes, due to heavier traffic.

Iowa DOT resident construction engineer Hugh Holak recommends planning on adding an extra 15 to 20 minutes to commute times each way.

All of this construction, however, is for safety's sake.

The Iowa DOT will be replacing aging deck joints, which are reaching the end of their design life.

"The bridge repairs are relatively routine. The bridge is in good condition," Holak said. "We're repairing the joints to keep salt and water from leaking onto the bridge substructure units and onto the truss itself, to reduce corrosion. Over time, the joints have worn out, and we're just replacing them as routine maintenance."

The DOT will also seal the barrier rail and make some concrete improvements, among other upgrades.

Some 20,000 people drive the more-than 70-year-old Julien Dubuque bridge everyday, according to the Iowa DOT.

The construction is expected to be done in 10 calendar days, by July 31. Holak said the contractor will face fines if the project extends beyond that.

Other repair options included closing the bridge on weekends for six to eight weeks, or reducing traffic to one lane using a pilot car.

The City of Dubuque and Iowa DOT ultimately opted for the 10-day, full-closure option, to complete the work in the shortest possible span of time.

The project is set to cost about $920,000, a cost which will be split between Iowa and Illinois.

The bridge's pedestrian and bicyclist path will remain open throughout the duration of the construction.

Powered by Frankly