Bridge crossing Mississippi River into Iowa closed for repairs

The Black Hawk Bridge is temporarily closed due to concerns about its structural integrity

The Black Hawk Bridge.
The Black Hawk Bridge crossing the Mississippi River into Lansing, Iowa. Franjklogos (CC BY)

The Black Hawk Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River into Iowa, is temporarily closed due to concerns about its structural integrity. 

The closure leaves a 60-mile stretch between La Crosse and Prairie du Chien without a river crossing.

Construction of a replacement bridge began late last year and is expected to be completed in 2027. The Iowa Department of Transportation said that construction caused two of the piers under the existing bridge to slide out of place. 

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Clayton Burke, the project manager for the bridge replacement with Iowa DOT, said the department is working to build temporary piers to support the existing span until the new one is built. 

Burke said he expects the bridge will be down for about two months, and the DOT is working on other options for commuters. 

“The first thing we’re working on to provide any relief we can possible is a bus service running from one side of the bridge to the other to mitigate any cost of transportation that we can,” he said. 

A van service could also be added to take commuters from a bus drop off point to their final destination, he said. 

Locals will be facing long commute times while the bridge is down. Burke estimated a bus would have a 75-mile round trip to cross the river. Some locals said a 15 minute commute from Iowa to Wisconsin now takes 80 minutes. 

By the end of the week, Aaron La Haie will be the owner of J&R Military Surplus in the Village of De Soto, Wisconsin, which his parents have owned for 32 years. 

“What a week to buy a business, huh?” La Haie said. 

His store sells camouflage clothing and some camping essentials. 

“My typical customer base here, I’m gonna say it’s 50 percent from Iowa and Minnesota, and 50 percent from Wisconsin, and I think that’s gonna hurt quite a bit of that traffic for me,” he said. 

La Haie said he expects some of his locals will still make the trip. But he said what was an hour to an hour-and-a-half round trip journey will now take an entire afternoon.

“I’ll have limited exposure,” he said. 

La Haie said this is the third time that traffic from Wisconsin Highway 35 has been diverted from reaching his business. Extreme flooding last spring shut down the highway, as did a train derailment in April. 

Updates on the status of the bridge are being posted on the Mississippi River Bridge at Lansing Facebook page. 

“I’m just very glad that they think they can get the repairs done in two months on the bridge. If this would’ve been one where the bridge couldn’t be open until its scheduled completion date, that would be three years,” La Haie said. “If it would be a three-year span, I’d be very concerned for all the small businesses.”