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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BNSF Burlington, Iowa, bridge upgrade work begins

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Work has begun to replace BNSF Railway's 118-year-old swing span over the Mississippi River at Burlington, Iowa, with a modern lift span that will increase the river channel width from 150 feet to 307 feet 6 inches. The $70-million project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2011.

Construction of the lift span is being financed in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and previous year appropriations under the Truman-Hobbs Act, which provides federal funds for the alteration of bridges, found to be unreasonably obstructive to navigation. The Truman-Hobbs Bridge Alteration Program is managed by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard. The Burlington Bridge is one of the top three U.S. bridges most frequently struck by barges or towing vessels.

The bridge is used by about 30 trains a day, including two Amtrak trains linking Chicago to the West Coast and intermediate points. The bridge opens about 300 times a month to let river traffic pass, and about 24 million tons of waterborne commerce passed through the bridge in 2008.

Burlington native David Duke has been named construction manager for the project, for which Ames Construction, Inc., of Burnsville, Minn., is the prime contractor. Subcontractors include Frank Millard Company and Smith Engineering, and suppliers include Ideal Ready Mix; all three firms are Burlington-based. A total of up to 120 people will be working on the bridge at various times during the construction process.