Column: Red Wing bridge spans history, too
This is a monthly series of city of Red Wing Q&A. For more questions and answers, go to the City's web site at www.red-wing.org. If you have an inquiry, call 651-385-3608 or connect via Facebook at www.facebook.com/CityofRedWingMinnesota.
Q: What will the name of the new bridge be?
A: It's no surprise the new bridge over the Mississippi River has sparked excitement over the last year. The bridge is part of our everyday lives, whether we use it or view it, and watching the bridge and its new roads take shape has become a shared interest for many of us who live, work and visit Red Wing.
The name of the new bridge has also become a point of curiosity and attention. It's only natural, since we've been using the name Eisenhower Bridge for decades. Red Wing's original bridge, built in 1895, was dubbed the High Bridge. Then our current bridge was built under the name the Hiawatha Bridge, and that's what President Dwight Eisenhower officially named it when he visited town in the fall of 1960, addressing a packed crowd at the intersection of Main and Broad streets. Later it was renamed the Eisenhower Memorial Bridge but locally we shortened it, and for years the people of Red Wing have known it simply as the Eisenhower Bridge.
Today, with a new bridge being built, most people (including we at the city) assumed a different name would accompany the new structure. The state Department of Transportation also encouraged the city to reach out to the larger community for name ideas since it was hearing interest from multiple people and organizations. We on staff were excited to start an outreach process but just before our process officially got started, MnDOT reached out to us with additional information.
We learned that the bridge's name, Eisenhower Memorial Bridge, is not just the name of the current bridge. Under state law, it's actually the name for every bridge across the Mississippi River via Highway 63 at the city of Red Wing. That means when the new bridge is completed, it will retain, by state law, the name Eisenhower Memorial Bridge.
We also learned that veterans' groups in Minnesota and Wisconsin would like to keep the name in honor of Gen. Eisenhower and his service to our country. These groups, as we understand it, are from different areas in both states, and we want to respect those voices.
So the new bridge retains its current name, the Eisenhower Memorial Bridge. However, if you still have strong feelings about changing the name and you want to contact your state legislators directly about that, you can reach Rep. Barb Haley at email@example.com; or contact Sen. Mike Goggin at 651-296-4264.
If you have any additional questions, you can always contact me, Community Engagement Specialist Michelle Leise, at 651-385-3618 or firstname.lastname@example.org.