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Winona bridge closed indefinitely; problems for Wisconsin river towns

A busy bridge that connects Wisconsin with Winona, Minn., is closed and it's causing lots of hassles on both sides of the Mississippi River.

Winona's only bridge was abruptly shut down Tuesday, after inspectors found corroded gusset plates. Those plates hold the bridge's beams together.

It's the same problem that apparently caused last summer's Minneapolis bridge collapse.

The Winona bridge may be closed for several weeks and the nearest river crossing is 25 miles away at La Crosse.

As you might guess, commuters are fuming. They're upset about the extra travel time and the high gas costs that go with it.

In Fountain City Wis., Council President Debbie Scholl says the community must find another ambulance service. They have been using Winona's service and the nearest alternative is 10 miles away in Cochrane.

Scholl says about one-third of Fountain City's residents work in Winona and she hopes employers there will understand what they're going through.

Winona's mayor, Jerry Miller, says they'll feel the loss of Wisconsin shoppers as well.

The Winona bridge was built in 1941. It connects Highway 54 in Wisconsin with Highway 43 in Minnesota.

The Gopher State has been inspecting gusset plates throughout Minnesota.

Last month, half of the four-lane Blatnik Bridge between Superior and Duluth was closed while its gussets got repaired.