Julien Dubuque bridge construction may wrap up early - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Julien Dubuque bridge construction may wrap up early

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Construction on the Julien Dubuque/U.S. Highway 20 bridge may wrap up a day or two earlier than scheduled.

That's according to Hugh Holak, resident construction engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The bridge connects Dubuque and East Dubuque, Ill. It closed Monday morning for 10 consecutive days of repairs, but Holak said Thursday that time span could be shorter thanks to the efficient pace at which crews have been progressing. He declined to name an exact time of opening but said work could wrap up one to two days ahead of schedule.

The contractor has incentive to wrap up as soon as possible. The company would face a fine of $20,000 per day if the work stretches longer than 10 days, Holak said.

The Iowa DOT is replacing all seven of the bridge's deck joints. Holak said that's the most significant portion of the work and why the bridge has to be closed to traffic. As of Thursday afternoon, he said, crews had finished replacing all seven deck joints and pouring the new concrete over them. More work remains, but the pace is putting crews ahead of schedule.

That's good news for commuters and area businesses alike. The detour routes drivers through Wisconsin, adding an extra 15 to 20 minutes to morning and afternoon commutes.

Kathy Reisen owns an East Dubuque bar called Finally R Place. It sits right at the intersection of Sinsinawa and Wisconsin Avenues, which has become much busier thanks to the detour.

"Traffic's been wild. Lot of mad people," Reisen said with a laugh Thursday afternoon.

She said even though drivers may not like the detour, the traffic has helped her business on an otherwise slower afternoon.

"We had a pretty good crowd on Tuesday," Reisen said, "because I have that little sign out there."

Sitting outside her bar is a sign that reads, "Bridge Closing Special: $1.50 Busch Light Cans."

Still, Reisen said she looks forward to the project's completion.

"Just for my customers in general that live in Dubuque," she said. "It's a lot easier for them to come right over the bridge rather than-- one guy said it's eight miles' difference for him to come over."

15-year-old Nathan Ehrlich doesn't mind the traffic. It means good things for his business.

All day Thursday he sat at his family's sweet corn stand, which he placed right in front of the busy intersection.

"The people stop and ask you how much your sweet corn costs," Ehrlich said.

Sitting right on the detour, Ehrlich has a front row seat to the detour traffic.

"Seen a lot of people get mad," he said. "Like, the semi drivers are getting mad on how wide turns they have to do."

Dubuque police spokesperson Lt. Scott Baxter said they've had three vehicles break down on the Iowa-Wisconsin bridge this week, which is part of the detour. Other than that and traffic congestion, the closure hasn't been as problematic as they anticipated.

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