Bridge repair to cause 22-mile detour from Highway 1 near Pillager this summer

By Jim Wright, Correspondent

Bridge repairs just south of Pillager will close County State Highway 1 for about 30 days this summer, said Morrison County Public Works Director Steve Backowski. He wants to get that information out now — and often — leading up to the closure.

Rehabilitation of Bridge 49520 over the Crow Wing River will cause a 22-mile detour, traveling on Morrison County 28 to U.S. 10, to Motley, to State Highway 210, then to Pillager. The contractor will allow pedestrian traffic to use the bridge in a protected zone when safe.

“The detour will not start before June 8,” Backowski said. And he said the department will be working continuously to provide notices to highway users so they can plan ahead.

The contract for the work calls for completion of the project in 40 working days with the detour being allowed in place for 30 working days. The contract will provide for incentives to complete the work in less days, and includes a double penalty if the work is not completed within the contract time line.

“The emergency managers from both Morrison and Cass counties will provide services in the most efficient manner possible while the project is being conducted,” Backowski said. “Law enforcement coverage should not be affected to any great extent since each county provides its own service.”

Fire protection north of the bridge should not be affected and will continue to be provided by the city of Pillager, he said.

“Fire protection south of the bridge will be dispatched from both Motley and Pillager fire departments,” Backowski said.

“Ambulance service north of the bridge will continue to be dispatched out of Brainerd, and ambulance service south of the bridge will be dispatched from Little Falls with support from Camp Ripley,” Backowski said.

First responders have been notified of the project, so they know that special consideration will need to be adhered to during the time the detour is in place, he said.

“The main reason for the project is to stop and repair the differential movement of both abutments,” Backowski said.

That shifting is commonly caused by soil compaction and erosion, according to a report published by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Backowski said.

“The river bank under the bridge has lost its rock armor protection from erosion by ice and high flows,” he said.

“A secondary reason is that the bridge deck is showing deterioration and concrete spalling,” he said.

Spalling concrete is concrete that has broken up, flaked, or become pitted, usually the result of environmental factors and it can result in structural damage, such as to reinforcing bars positioned inside the concrete.

“Corrosion of the steel rebar in the deck has been detected during inspections of the structure,” Backowski said.

Anyone with questions and concerns may contact the public works director at (320) 632-0120, or the Morrison County emergency manager, (320) 632 -0195.