US Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar (D) stopped in Winona Saturday morning to tour construction on the Highway 43 Bridge replacement project.
Construction on the replacement bridge started in July of 2014, and is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2016. Klobuchar helped get $71 million in federal dollars for the project, which is expected to cost $162 million.
The project also includes reconstruction of the current bridge. Rehabilitation of the current bridge will start when construction is finished on the new bridge and is expected to be completed by fall of 2019.
So far, construction of the replacement bridge is on schedule and on budget. Minnesota Department of Transportation Project Manager Terry Ward said crews worked through winter challenges to keep the project on schedule.
"Cold weather, we have to do some special or creative things for protecting concrete that we pour," Ward said.
Klobuchar said the bridge replacement and revitalization was a priority because of safety concerns.
"We all remember when that 35W bridge crashed into the Mississippi River, " Klobuchar said. "When you see something like that, and then you find out that you have some issues with this bridge--you can actually see the re-bar through the cement here--then you can see that the time has come to make changes."
She said the bridge was also key to Winona's downtown.
"It's really important when you look at the river towns, and with he economy picking up, there's a huge tourism potential, with Winona being a port city, there's just huge potential with tourism," Klobuchar said.
After her stop in Winona, Klobuchar visited Featherstone Farms in Rushford.