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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
I-94 Interstate Bridge
I-94 Saint Croix River Crossing
Hudson, WI

I-94 Bridge

Eastbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI: 82800 (MN), B55012600000000 (WI).
• Length: 2,382 Feet.
• Width: 68 Feet, 4 Traffic Lanes.
• Date Built: Opened August 1995. Replaced 1951 Span.
 
Westbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI: 9400 (MN), B55006100000000 (WI).
• Length: 2,381 Feet.
• Width: 52 Feet, 4 Traffic Lanes.
• Date Built: Built 1971, Reconstructed 2004.
 
Statistics Common To Both Spans
• Location: River Mile 16.1.
• River Elevation: 675 Feet.
• Highway: I-94, US-12.
• Daily Traffic Count: 82,000 (2004).
• Bridge Type: Steel Girder.
• Navigation Channel Width: 300 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 55 Feet.
Given that Minneapolis is a major trading area for western Wisconsin, and the population boom underway on the Wisconsin side of the state line, the I-94 Saint Croix River crossing is a major transportation facility important for the economy of both states. Traffic is high, especially on holiday weekends.

Looking at the top photo, which is shot from the Wisconsin side facing Minnesota, notice the small jog in the highway at the base of the bridge. I-94 in Wisconsin once was aligned on the current eastbound lanes, and crossed the river where the south span currently sits. The old south span was a long through-truss bridge. In the mid-1980s, Minnesota completed I-94 from the state line to I-494/694. This project included adding the current north span. Once that span was completed, the old bridge was shut down and refurbished, opening again in the late 1980s. With I-94 aligned along the old span, the new bridge introduced a small jog in the highway alignment.

Wisconsin DOT rebuilt I-94 from the state line to about 3 miles east of Hudson in the late 1980s. The new eastbound lanes were built south of the existing right of way, and the westbound lanes were built on the old alignment. This had the effect of making the jog even bigger.

Next came the flood of 1993. The old south span was severely damaged in the record flood. The state made temporary repairs, but the stress on the structure caused hundreds of cracks to form in the steel. The bridge was no longer able to handle heavy loads. On an emergency basis, eastbound trucks were routed across the median and on the inside lane of the westbound span. Had this action not been taken, bridge engineers believed that the old span would have ended up in the water within a year. They consider it a close call.

Work on a new south span was started in 1994. The new bridge was built between the existing bridges. It was tricky work since the new bridge was 80 feet wide, but the existing bridges were only 95 feet apart. The new bridge opened up only 363 days after it was started, which is an amazing feat of bridge construction. Just as the new south span was completed, the north span required significant deck work. As a result, all traffic was routed across the new south span for nearly a year. The net effect is that this area was under construction for most of a decade.

Many people are aware that the Mississippi River forms part of the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. As a result, many people traveling on I-94 towards the Twin Cities mistakenly think that they are crossing the Mississippi River via this bridge, and are unaware that the Saint Croix River also forms part of the border between these two states. The size of the Saint Croix River at this location adds to the illusion since it is five times as wide as the Mississippi River where I-94 crosses the Mississippi in Minneapolis.

The photo above is a view of the river crossing from an overpass at the top of the bluff on the Wisconsin side of the Saint Croix River. The photo below is a view from traffic level heading westbound towards Minnesota. The newer span is on the left in both photos.


I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are views from the west end of the structure. The photo above is south face of the bridge viewed from under the structure. The photo below is the east end of the bridge viewed from the west river bank. The newer of the two spans is on the right side in each photo.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are views from Birkmose Park high on the bluffs above Hudson, Wisconsin, on the east side of the Saint Croix River. The photo above is the east end of the bridge, where work is underway to pain the the older westbound span in the autumn of 2010. On October 20, a worker fell from a ladder while working under the bridge, landing on a platform 15 feet below the bridge, breaking his leg in the process. It took local firefighters an hour and a half to rig ropes and rescue the worker in one of the most technically complex rescues ever undertaken by the Hudson Fire Department. The rescue occurred during rush hour, resulting in a huge traffic jam for commuters heading home to Wisconsin from the Twin Cities. The photo below shows the entire bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is another view of the Interstate Bridge as seen from Birkmose Park taken from the same vantage point as the photo directly above. This photo is from late spring, 2011, where as the earlier shot is from autumn of the year before. The photo below is a similar view taken from the same angle, but from the waterfront rather than the top of the bluffs.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is a view of the east end of the Interstate Bridge. The photo below are the main bridge spans. Both views are looking southwest from Birkmose Park.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is the west bridge abutment as seen from high on the bluffs in Birkmose Park on the east side of the Saint Croix River. The underside of the bridge is in a shadow, while the landscape is in bright sunlight, making for a difficult lighting conditions. The photo below is the bridge plate on the Wisconsin end of the newer eastbound span.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is looking west down the south face of the eastbound bridge span towards Minnesota. The photo below is looking west down the north face of the westbound span. This side of the bridge is in a shadow, which resulted in the landscape being overexposed in order to show the detail under the bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is the north side of the bridge as seen from a park on the Minnesota side of the river. The photo below is looking south under the west end of the bridge from the access road to the Saint Croix Beach Park.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is the abutment on the west end of the bridge. The brown steel is on the newer eastbound span, while the blue steel is part of the older westbound bridge. The photo below is a detailed look at the underside of the newer eastbound span. It is very dark under the bridge, resulting in the rest of the photo being overexposed.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are views looking east along the north side of the older westbound bridge. The photo above includes a view of the Minnesota shoreline in the foreground, while the photo below gives a closer view of the main channel span.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are views looking between the two bridge spans from the Minnesota side of the river. The photo above is looking towards Hudson, Wisconsin, on the east side of the Saint Croix River, while the photo below is looking down the gap between the two bridges.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are looking east towards Wisconsin along the south side of the newer eastbound structure. The photo above is looking along the outside of the bridge, while the photo below is looking under the rightmost side of the bridge below the pedestrian walkway.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos, and the 30 that follow, are views from walking the bridge deck in the spring of 2011. The photo above is the trail leading to the east end of the Interstate Bridge from downtown Hudson. It is about a mile from the nearest parking area to the east bridge abutment. In this view, we are facing south looking towards Interstate highway I-94 near the interchange with WI-35. The photo below is the trail after it makes a turn to the west.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is the east end of the Interstate Bridge. The westbound lanes heading to Minnesota are on the near side, with the eastbound lanes heading into Wisconsin on the far side of the highway. The photo below is the trail near the east bridge abutment. The trail loops under the bridge, then comes up on the south side of the structure to cross the river on the south bridge span.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are views of the trail as it makes a corner to the left to head south under the east end of the I-94 Interstate Bridge. The photo above is looking west with the river in the background, while the photo below is looking southwest with the bridge in the background.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is the north side of the east bridge abutment as the trail approaches the structure from the north. The photo below is looking south along the trail as it passes under the two bridge spans. Note the scaffold hanging down under the bridge. This is to provide access to work crews who are painting the bridges.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is a view of the north side of the eastbound bridge span. It provides another view of the scaffolding hanging from the structure. The photo above is the trail as it heads east along the south side of the south bridge abutment. The trail will make a hairpin turn just before the gantry sign and connect to the sidewalk on the bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are views of the hairpin turn at the east end of the eastbound bridge span. This turn allows the trail to climb up to the bridge deck after having passed under the bridge. The photo above is looking east towards Hudson, while the photo below is looking west towards Minnesota.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is looking northwest across the traffic lanes at the east end of the Interstate Bridge. The oncoming traffic in the nearest lanes are leaving Minnesota and heading into Wisconsin. Note the line of K-blocks blocking off the lane closest to the middle of the bridge. This is to block off a lane to be used by construction equipment supporting the bridge painting project. The photo below is looking west along the sidewalk on the south side of the south bridge span.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is another view looking northwest across the traffic lanes. This is a very busy bridge, and I had to wait several minutes for a gap in the traffic to get a photo without cars blocking the view. The photo below is another view looking west down the sidewalk as we continue our trek towards the west end of the structure.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is a view looking across the traffic lanes from about one-third of the way across the bridge while heading westbound towards Minnesota. The photo below shows a spot where the bridge railing is in need of repairs. It appears that the bolts were removed and the railing was pushed out with considerable force. I don't see any evidence of a traffic accident here, so I don't know how this was damage occurred. It is curious that it happened at a joint in the bridge. It looks like the railing has a section that is supposed to telescope to allow the bridge joint to move. I suspect that this telescope on the railing rusted, and then enough force built up in the railing to break the blots when the bridge contracted.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is a ‘Super Unit’ rented from Advanced Recycling Systems from Ohio. This machine supports the sand blasting used to remove paint and rust from the bridge, and it cleans and recycles the grit used in the blasting. This impressive machine has a 350 horsepower diesel engine that drives a 40-kilowatt generator, which in turns powers a 7.5 horsepower electric fan. It can generate 200 pounds per square inch for blasting, and deliver 5,400 cubic feet of air per minute. The photo below is looking west along the sidewalk as we near the center of the bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo below is a view of the west end of the bridge on the Wisconsin side of the Saint Croix River. The work crews in the far left lane near the center of the bridge are sand blasting and painting the bridge steel under the bridge deck. The photo below is a view looking east down the sidewalk as we walk back towards Hudson, Wisconsin. The section of bridge railing that is damaged is just beyond the sign post in the foreground.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is the contractor pickup truck that shadowed me the entire time I was on the bridge taking photos. Apparently they are a little sensitive about people taking photos, possibly due to the construction accident that happened in the latter part of 2010. The photo below is looking east towards the east end of the Interstate Bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is looking off to the southeast from the bridge deck towards the trail as it loops back under the bridge. The photo below is the hairpin turn in the trail at the east end of the bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is walking west on the trail as it descends toward the turn where it passes under the bridge structure. The photo below is the bridge abutment at the east end of the eastbound span.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is looking west along the south face of the south bridge span towards Minnesota. The vantage point is near the bridge abutment at the top of the retaining wall that is visible in the photo below. The photo below is a view of the trail as it turns to the north to pass under the Interstate Bridge.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
The photo above is a view looking west along the south face of the eastbound span of the Interstate Bridge. The vantage point is the trail that passes under the bridge. The photo below is a view of the bridge structure as seen from under the bridge deck.

I-94 Bridge
I-94 Bridge
These two photos are the last two on our journey heading back to Hudson after crossing the bridge deck on foot. In the photo above, we are passing under the westbound bridge span, about to make a turn to the east. The photo below is looking to the east as we walk towards Hudson on the trail just after the turn visible in the photo above.

I-94 Bridge

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