In early 2015, MnDOT began a design-build project to completely relocate Highway 53. This 3.1 mile project also included building a brand-new steel-girder bridge over Rouchleau Pit, the main drinking water source for the city of Virginia, Minnesota. RAM Construction Services was one of 27 local subcontractors under Kiewit, and our contract involved applying epoxy chip seal to the bridge deck to improve the structure’s surface friction and longevity.
The sidewalk work was not included in the original contract, but was awarded via change order when the state realized it was in their best interest to overlay the new corresponding trail. RAM proposed a special sidewalk blend aggregate, which is less aggressive for pedestrians, but still offers enough friction for bicycle and snowmobile traffic. A darker aggregate was used on the actual bridge deck, not only for aesthetic purposes, but so UV rays would warm the deck in the winter months.
The highway was relocated in order to gain access to iron ore deposits, which exist below the original roadway. A major obstacle we encountered was lack of access to the project location. Since the new roadway had not yet been completed, getting our heavy equipment onto the bridge deck was a troublesome uncertainty. We ended up having to use front end loaders and bulldozers to push our equipment onto solid ground.
Now completed and standing over 200 feet high, The Highway 53 Bridge over Rouchleau Pit is one of the tallest bridges in Minnesota. It was an honor working on such a historic and well-executed project. Congratulations to our crew for another job well done, and a special thanks to Kiewit Infrastructure Company for their continued trust in RAM Construction Services.