Created: 07/18/2014 6:44 PM KAALtv.com
By: Meghan Reistad
(ABC 6 News) -- After years of planning, construction crews are expected to start work on the new Winona bridge project next week. More than 11,000 vehicles travel across the Winona bridge each day and, since 1942, that bridge has stood alone.
"This great river community creates commerce on our side of the river and on the other side of the river," said Congressman Tim Walz.
Today, state and local officials met to break ground for a new bridge to stand next to the current one. It is a bridge with a long history, and it is crucial to the community. In 2008, it was shut down for repairs.
"Economically, you saw what happened when this bridge shut down last time; it was devastating to this community," said Walz.
The new bridge will add two more lanes and help preserve the historic bridge by cutting down on traffic. After the second bridge is up, the current one will be restored.
"What we came up with was a project that's not only going to be safe, speed commerce and be standing for another 70 years, we preserved another part of our heritage," said Walz.
The total cost will be around 162 million dollars. The project is supported by the state and federal government.
"Nationwide, we have bridges that are falling apart and I'm glad that we were able to get a significant amount of federal funding, 71 million dollars," said Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Planning has been in the works since 2009 and the long-awaited construction is set to start on Monday.
"This community has always said, 'What can we do?’ You found a solution. You found a unique way of collaborating together and today we stand here on the first part of it," said Walz.
Organizers said the project is going to be efficient for traffic, with no detours. Traffic is set to be open on both bridges by 2019.