This bridge sees a lot of traffic, a lot of trucks, and a lot of salt. As a result, it has seen significant wear over the years. The deck has issues with cracking. This lead MN-DOT to try an experimental coating containing lithium. While the lithium has worked well in other places, it did not seem to perform well on this bridge. At the current time this was written in early 2008, the caps on the bridge piers have deteriorated and need to be repaired. MN-DOT is planning to do that work during the summer of 2008.
Highway US-14 is rated as one of the worst and most dangerous roads in the state. In its older sections, it is narrow and has a lot of curves. MN-DOT is gradually upgrading US-14 to be a freeway and rural expressway. The sections that are complete are very nice. During 2008, the section west of I-35 was being upgraded, which will result in US-14 being a full freeway between I-35 and Mankato. The section east of I-35 to Rochester is about 50% complete. An environmental impact statement has just been filed for an upgrade between Mankato and New Ulm. The decisions include using the existing river bottom alignment, or moving the highway to the top of the bluffs. Next, where should US-14 cross the Minnesota River? One option is to put in a twin span to this old bridge. Another option is crossing on a new alignment up river, or cross downriver and bypass New Ulm to the south. The current bridge does need a new deck and replacement guardrails, but this work is unlikely to be done until the new highway alignment is finalized.
The 1963 bridge replaced an earlier river bridge that was located about 500 feet downstream of the current bridge. The approach road to the south from New Ulm still exists, and is used to access a park and boat ramp. The approach road on the north is abandoned and overgrown with trees and brush.
The photo above is a view looking west towards the downriver east face of the US-14 bridge. The vantage point is the site where the abutment of the old bridge once stood on the south bank of the Minnesota River. The photo below is a view heading southbound across the US-14 bridge while traveling westbound on US-14. The city of New Ulm is located on the far side of the river.