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Engineers working toward County Road 2 bridge fix

As many look to the skies hoping for rain, in the case of the Mower County bridge that was shut down this week, lack of rain may have averted a big problem.

Because of how low the Cedar River is currently, inspectors from the Minnesota Department of Transportation were able to spot the distresses in steel piling that ultimately forced the immediate closing of the bridge on County Road 2, east of Lansing on Tuesday.

Inspectors spotted these distresses in the form of missing pieces from the piling, which in normal years would have been otherwise hidden below the water line. There were already plans in place to rehabilitate the bridge, but now those plans will change.

“There was going to be some minor work done to the piling and they were going to redo the approaches and railings on the bridge,” said Mower County Engineer Mike Hanson Thursday. “At this point, that plan is probably changed.”

While the bridge will need to be replaced, temporary work will be able to open the bridge up this fall during the harvest. Engineers are still looking at how best to do that, but Hansen said it could involve placing a cylinder around the H-shaped pile and then filling that with concrete.

“That’s the fix, encase them with tubes and then fill with concrete and that will get us by for the time being until we can get a plan done and then going out and probably building a new bridge,” Hanson said.

As of right now, a variety of ways exist for avoiding that portion of County Road 2, including routing through Highway 218 or taking backroads.

The bridge is 50 years old this year and normally could stretch to 75 years. Still, half a century is a long time for a bridge.

“Normally we would figure 75 years, but when a bridge is 50 years old, that’s getting a little long in the tooth,” Hanson said.