I-35 to U.S. 30 flyover bridge construction near Ames to be potentially delayed into next year


This construction, located directly off of Wallace Road on campus is showing to be a hindrance to Iowa State staff and professors. The engineers working with the DOT hope to cut down time on projects such as these.

Devyn Leeson

Faulty construction along the interchange between Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 30 next to Ames could potentially delay a bridge that aims to reduce congestion and accidents in the area.

Jesse Tibodeau, District One construction engineer at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), said the exit and entrance loop for I-35 and U.S. 30 had 118 accidents between 2013 and 2017, 45 percent of which were associated with the section of loop the bridge would replace.

“There were anchor bolts that were embedded into the concrete piers,” Tibodeau said in relation to the construction issues. “Those need to be repositioned as most of them were out of tolerance and need to be corrected. The secondary issue is that many of the piers were off several inches in elevation.”

Several inches may sound negligible, but Tibodeau said with the size, load and material the bridge will be handling, there would be a small window of tolerance as far as height was concerned.

Minnowa Construction Inc., the contractor in charge of the construction job, is the company responsible to meet the tolerances, Tibodeau said.

“Generally we hire the contractor to do the work, and they have to follow our plan and meet our tolerances,” Tibodeau said. “They just didn’t do it in this case so they are correcting the work.”

The project could be delayed into next year as a result.

“Originally we were expecting to open the bridge later this year before winter,” Tibodeau said. “We are still hopeful we can meet that schedule, although we just don’t know. There is a possibility the repairs could take longer than we hope and in that case we would be seeing the bridge open next year in 2019.”

Tibodeau said they will continue to work with the contractor on getting the bridge done on time despite possible hangups.

Minnowa has not responded to phone calls or voicemails left in relation to the bridge.

The cost of the bridge to taxpayers will not increase as a result. The project, which cost taxpayers $23 million, will have extra costs absorbed by Minnowa.

“We aren’t paying Minnowa during the period where they are reconstructing any piers,” Tibodeau said. “The cost of the contract was $23 million and we don’t know what the cost of repairs will be but they will be absorbed by the contractor.”

Construction on the project, which started in 2016, will near completion once the flyover bridge is finished. The DOT will still have to remove parts of the existing interchange, including the loop that transports cars from I-35 north to U.S. 30 west, which is currently seen as problematic.

As construction continues, the Iowa DOT says there will be intermittent closures.

“As work on the project progresses, intermittent lane closures will be necessary,” according to a statement on the DOT website. “Special care will be taken to plan closures around peak traffic times and special events that will cause increased traffic in the area. Notification will be given prior to these intermittent closures.”

The project is being paid for by both state and federal funds.