Construction through October; new CR7/I-35 overpass will be wider, include lighting, sidewalk, railing and Pine City logo
The south Pine City overpass on Interstate 35 will come down on Monday, July 22 to make way for a new overpass with features aimed at improving Pine City’s future.
During the demolition process there will be a 72-hour closure of I-35, with northbound and southbound traffic routed over the ramps on the overpass.
Construction of the new County Road 7/Hillside Avenue/Pokegama Lake Road overpass will continue into October.
MnDOT Project Engineer Andrew Deming said that new overpass will include a center left-turn lane and a sidewalk with railing and lighting on the north side of the bridge.
“A four foot shoulder will go back on the sidewalk side, and an eight-foot shoulder will go on the [south] side,” Deming said. “The whole bridge will be wider ... and we are doing minor adjustments to the profile of the road which should increase the visibility for people on the ramps.”
Deming noted that the northbound and southbound ramps will each be closed for three weeks at a time in August or September, depending on where they are at in the construction process.
The existing CR 7/Hillside Ave./Pokegama Lake Rd. overpass on I-35 was built in 1962. Deming said that the new overpass will be in place for decades to come.
“It’s exciting to replace a bridge that was built in the 1960s,” he said. “We’re building a structure that we hope will be in place for at least 60 years and serving the community. Stressful during, but afterward when you walk away from a completed job it’s exciting.”
City providing lighting, railing, logo
Pine City Mayor Carl Pederson said that the city chipped in funds for improvements to the overpass.
“We had asked MnDOT for some input on aesthetics, and we are going to have a railing on the north side – that’s the side that the sidewalk is on,” Pederson said. “It will kind of have an arc in the middle, and we opted to do a large Pine City logo.”
He said that there will also be LED downlighting on the north side, and added that the city hopes to one day add a similar railing and lighting on the south side, and has some money set aside to do so.
“MnDOT wanted a fair amount of money to do it [now],” Pederson said. “So what we asked for was to run a conduit along the south side concrete rail so that we can install our own lighting later, and also, consider manufacturing another rail for the south side with the logo on it. That’s going to be exciting, and we’ll come back to that when they’re done with the bridge. We just think we can do that for a lot less money rather than getting MnDOT involved.”
Pederson said that Pine County plans to do work on Hillside Avenue later on this summer while the bridge is closed, and said he understands that the combination of projects will pose challenges to commuters and local businesses.
“It’s something that needs to get done,” Pederson said. “Hopefully it won’t displace too much of their business. There are many incremental impacts that will affect what’s going on in the town. People still want to get to Walmart, so they’re going to find a way.
“I’m excited that we’re getting this done,” he said. “This year we’ll wind up the big [Interstate 35] projects that are affecting our city. It’s been three years or better now that they’ve been doing all this work to the south and the north. We’re set for 30 to 40 years, short of something falling down. We won’t see another one in our lifetime. It’s a long-term proposition.”