Public learns more at August 8 meeting about Iowa DOT study for potential replacement of Black Hawk Bridge in Lansing


Replacement alternatives discussed for Black Hawk Bridge; Public comment sought ... The image displayed above shows four alternative locations being considered for replacement of the Black Hawk Bridge that connects Iowa Highway 9 and Wisconsin Highway 82 at Lansing, a topic discussed by Iowa Department of Transportation officials at an August 8 public meeting in Lansing. With the existing bridge noted with the directional arrow in the center of the above image, the Blue Alternative and Purple Alternative running parallel just north and south, respectively, to the current bridge are options carried over from a 2004 feasibility study by the Iowa Department of Transportation, as is the Orange Alternative that would reroute the bridge further south to a connection with John Street in Lansing. The Green Alternative traveling further to the north was a new option proposed for this more recent study being conducted. The Iowa Department of Transportation is accepting public comments on the proposed replacement options at http://bit.ly/iowadot11311. Image courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

New bridge designs would address river navigation concerns ... The image displayed above shows four alternative designs being considered for replacement of the Black Hawk Bridge that connects Iowa Highway 9 and Wisconsin Highway 82 at Lansing, a topic discussed by Iowa Department of Transportation officials at an August 8 public meeting in Lansing. With the existing bridge design pictured at the top of the above image, its 653-foot main span between the two piers submerged in the river and allowing for river navigation under the bridge is considered to be too narrow by the U.S. Coast Guard to allow barges to navigate up and down the Mississippi River's main channel. Each of the four alternative designs pictured above would accommodate the 770-foot main span required by the U.S. Coast Guard, and any of the four could also be used at the four proposed replacement locations pictured on the front page of this edition of The Standard. The Iowa Department of Transportation is accepting public comments on the proposed replacement options at http://bit.ly/iowadot11311. Image courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Public comment accepted until August 21

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

Tuesday, August 8 at Kerndt Brothers Community Center in Lansing, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) held a public information meeting to discuss the proposed study of the Iowa 9 bridge, also known as the Black Hawk Bridge, that connects the states of Iowa and Wisconsin at Lansing.
The meeting was an open forum where interested individuals could pose questions to Iowa DOT staff about the information posted on a variety of graphic displays trying to highlight different scenarios for the future of the bridge and navigation both across and on the Mississippi River. Hundreds of area residents from both sides of the Mississippi streamed into the venue over the hour and a half time period to view the proposals for the Black Hawk Bridge replacement.

It has been well established that the maintenance and/or replacement of the Black Hawk bridge is of critical importance to everyone living in the area as the bridge is the only connection between Wisconsin and Iowa for almost 40 miles either north or south. It has proven to be a vital lifeline between the two states for people who regularly use the bridge. That dependency was realized briefly earlier this summer when Wisconsin Highway 82 that connects with the Black Hawk Bridge was closed for several days to repair a washout of the highway by high water on the Mississippi River.

The purpose of the August 8 meeting was to acquaint people with the study to improve transportation infrastructure across the Mississippi River consisting of Iowa Highway 9 and Wisconsin Highway 82, including the Black Hawk Bridge. The Black Hawk Bridge, now nearly 90 years old, was the subject of a 2004 Feasibility Study which served as the foundation of the improvement objectives for the project. That feasibility study can be viewed in its entirety on the Iowa DOT website at https://iowadot.gov/ole/documents/FinalBlackHawkReport.pdf.

The current study objectives are to: 1. Provide infrastructure that meets current operational standards; 2. Provide appropriate clearances for river navigation; and 3. Consider impacts to environmental and community resources.

The first step in the process is to define the reasons the project is needed. The DOT based the need for its proposals on roadway deficiencies because the current bridge lacks shoulders, and has narrow travel lanes and weight restrictions. In addition, the intersection of IA 9 and IA 26 at the bridge entrance in Lansing, does not provide adequate turning space for large vehicles such as trucks. This intersection must be used for the current bridge approach.

The second need established is that the bridge supports connection for area employment, retail and educational centers. Without this vital bridge link, all of these areas would be affected. The final reason for the proposals is that the current bridge pieces pose challenges to navigation on the river. In addition, it was noted that crossing the bridge is dangerous for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

The study process will also take into consideration the environmental factors that deal with cultural resources such as historic and architectural resources, especially since much of Lansing’s business district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If proposals would adversely affect those resources, those factors would need to be resolved.

Environmental considerations must also be reviewed in relationship to the ecology of the area. The Environmental Assessment must document the impact a transportation project may have on both the human and natural environment.

Charts on display at the meeting showed proposed bridge designs as well as four probable locations for a new bridge (as pictured with this article). Three of those proposals (highlighted in green, blue and purple in the accompanying graphic on the front page of this edition) are very close to the current bridge’s location. The fourth proposal (marked in orange in that graphic) moves the bridge south several hundred feet with an entrance off of John Street (by the current ball diamond and fire station).

Many area residents questioned DOT staff about the feasibility of repairing the current bridge. Most of the officials felt that could be studied but realistically it would probably not solve the issues that are currently problematic with the bridge, especially the distance between the piers under the bridge which makes river navigation more difficult at the curve of the river. The current bridge span between piers is 653 feet, and the minimum recommended span, as shown in the new alternative bridge designs (pictured at left on this same page), is 770 feet.

When asked if the current bridge could be kept for pedestrians and bicyclists if a new one was built, a DOT official responded that the DOT is not in the business of maintaining unused bridges. If the bridge was to be kept, it would need to be purchased by a group or an individual who would maintain it as a private enterprise.

Public comments on this project are still being accepted through Monday, August 21. The public may comment by going to http://bit.ly/iowadot11311 and entering opinions about the project, the designs, and locations of the proposed bridge replacement.

The project is currently in the data collection phase. During the next six months, input will be received and reviewed. Further background studies will also be done. A second public meeting is planned to be held to discuss the best alternatives for the project. During the 2018-2019 year, the studies will be completed, the environmental assessment documents will be completed and another public hearing will likely be held. All informational posters and information about the meeting are located online at http://www.news.iowadot.gov/pim/2017/07/iowa-9-allamakee-county-aug-8-20....
 

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