Structural failure closes 93-year-old Mississippi River bridge

March 5, 2024

The Mississippi River bridge connecting Iowa to Wisconsin remains closed during efforts to repair an unexpected structural failure discovered late last month.

The Iowa DOT closed the roadway after reports of “unexpected movement” on the bridge, which connects Iowa Highway 9 in Lansing, Iowa, to Wisconsin Highway 82 in rural Crawford County, Wisconsin.

A structural failure affected two piers on the bridge, which has been open to traffic during a project to build a new bridge next to it, the Iowa DOT said.

In response to the incident, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for Allamakee and Clayton counties. The proclamation said the failure had occurred due to “an external cause.”

The Iowa DOT and other agencies are working to determine what had caused the piers to move, including whether construction of the new bridge had played a part in the movement.

“We placed monitors on the bridge before construction started and are using data from those monitors in our investigation,” the Iowa DOT said. “We unfortunately will not have any more information on the closure until the inspection takes place.”

The Iowa DOT has not released any further statements on what caused the failure.

The bridge could remain closed through April, and motorists have been told to take alternate routes.

“Work is already in progress to stabilize the two impacted piers so we can reopen the bridge as quickly as possible,” the Iowa DOT said in a Facebook post dated Feb. 26. “However, work is expected to take up to two months. The bridge will not be reopened until it is deemed safe.”

The disaster proclamation is effective through March 30, 2024.  It activates the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Repair Program, which authorizes emergency relief funding to cover the costs of repair or reconstruction of federal-aid routes that have suffered severe damage due to sudden structural failure. 

The approximately 1,700-foot Mississippi River Bridge has connected the two states since 1931. It was previously closed from 1945 to 1957 when it was damaged by ice dams, according to the Iowa DOT.

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Photo courtesy of Iowa DOT

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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