Lindsay C. Warren (Alligator River) bridge replacement. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Bridge projects to be abundant throughout 2024

August 18, 2023

Bridge projects currently in the planning phases are abundant throughout the country. Most are large and complex and the majority fall into the category of critical infrastructure. The examples that follow point to commonalities that can be found in planning documents. All projects are likely to launch late this year or early in 2024.

A $520 million bridge replacement project in Hood River, Oregon, is currently in the design phase, but demolition of the old bridge will begin soon. The 100-year-old bridge is structurally deficient and unable to handle current traffic demands. The new structure will be multi-modal and designed to transport both people and goods across the Hood River while improving barge transportation as well. The Port of Hood River currently owns, operates, maintains, and sets tolls on the bridge. But the new bridge will be overseen by a newly established government agency – the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge Authority.

An extremely large initiative to replace the Blatnik Bridge that links Wisconsin and Minnesota carries an estimated cost projection of $1.8 billion. This will be one of the largest highway projects ever completed in the region. Since this project will require an environmental assessment, construction could start as late as 2027. The Blatnik Bridge currently crosses St. Louis Bay and connects Superior, Wisconsin, to Duluth, Minnesota. The bridge is in dire need of attention. The project will also include construction of a new interchange on the Wisconsin side of the bridge. Because the structure crosses state lines, the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation are working together to design and plan the project, but the state’s department of transportation serves as the lead agency. The states will share the cost of the project evenly.

City officials in Chicago will restore four bridges across the Calumet River in 2024 at a projected cost of $302 million. The design work outlines sidewalks, bike lanes and corridors for foot traffic. Justification for the project notes that the bridges are in dire need of rehabilitation to fortify and upgrade the structures for safety. Stronger steel and new mechanical and electric systems will be critical components of the project. When completed, the restoration effort will eliminate current load restrictions and detours, and halt additional structural deterioration.

Several Union Pacific bridges will be rebuilt in Chicago at a cumulative cost of $337 million in 2024. The project is currently in the design phase, and solicitations are scheduled to be released late in 2023 with construction planned for 2024. The Metra rail transit system in Chicago will oversee efforts to replace 11 railroad bridges along the Union Pacific North line. Components of the project will include replacing 11 bridges, constructing retaining walls, moving rail tracks in certain places, and lowering several areas so that the tracks maintain appropriate clearance. Because the project is so large, work will be phased, and the demolition of an unused track bay will be the first effort. During phase 2, the project will focus on northbound tracks and the west side of the railroad. The last phase will complete the project on southbound tracks and east side of the tracks.

An $81 million Long Island bridge reconstruction project in Boston, Massachusetts, is currently in the final permitting stage. The design work has been completed, and construction solicitations will be released in late 2023 or early 2024. City officials will oversee the project and when completed, the bridge will provide access to the public health campus on Long Island. Existing bridge piers will be refurbished, and the bridge will be constructed on the foundations. The bridge project is closely related to reconstruction projects planned for the public health campus. An upgraded health campus is planned to span 11 buildings. Construction solicitations for the campus will be released later this year and construction is expected to start in spring of 2024.

The Lindsay C. Warren Bridge that spans across the Lindsey Alligator River in Columbia, North Carolina, will be replaced at a cost of approximately $271 million in 2024. North Carolina’s Department of Transportation will oversee the project. The new bridge, which will be built adjacent to the existing bridge, will be a modern fixed-span, high-rise structure with two travel lanes. It will be designed to increase clearance above the river to allow for marine and vehicle traffic to pass below at the same time unimpeded. Once the final design is finalized, solicitations will be issued for contractors.

An urban pedestrian bridge will be constructed in Knoxville, Tennessee. The cost has been projected at $70 million. This project is in the early stages of development and officials from the city, county, state and University of Tennessee will work together to oversee the design work. The bridge, when completed, will connect the university to Knoxville’s waterfront. A seven-acre piece of land has been purchased for the bridge project and it extends to a location near the Thompson-Boling Arena where an entertainment district will be developed by the university. This adjoining initiative will include housing and retail. The bridge will also connect the campus with an 18-mile downtown greenway and a 45-mile urban wilderness trail.

A Bohemian Highway Bridge refurbishing project in Monte Rio, Sonoma County, California, has been given an estimated cost of $25 million. A construction timeline has not been established since the scope of the project changed dramatically. Originally, the plan was to completely replace the bridge with a new one. That effort would have required a much higher cost projection of $88 million. After a reassessment by the state’s department of transportation, it was determined that available funding could not cover the cost of a new bridge. The plan then changed to a $25 million renovation project. Even though a renovation project will be launched soon, it appears that the state will continue working with Sonoma County to identify funding for a full bridge replacement in the future.

Bridge projects of every type will be found throughout the country in 2024. Contractors would be wise to examine each project carefully because many will be tied to other contracting opportunities that will follow the construction and/or rehabilitation of an American bridge.

Mary Scott Nabers

Mary is President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a business development/public affairs firm that specializes in procurement consulting, market research, government affairs, knowledge transfer and public-private partnerships (P3s). Mary is also co-founder of the Gemini Global Group (G3), a firm that works with national and international clients on business development, P3s, and other types of government objectives.

A recognized expert regarding P3s, Mary is the author of Collaboration Nation – How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government and Inside the Infrastructure Revolution – A Roadmap for Rebuilding America.

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