One of the two main bridges in the Twin Ports is about to see some dramatic upgrading;  When it returns to full capacity, it will also usher in the first roundabout in the Duluth-Superior area.

A roundabout is an interstate-style circular road that will get traffic off the Bong Bridge without using stoplights or stop signs. Dickenson says it’s safer than the traffic lights and the hard right turn vehicles have to take now onto Belknap at the end of the Bong exit in Superior.

The Bong Bridge is scheduled for two years of repairs - in 2014 and 2015.  Each year, one-direction of the bridge will be closed off to traffic, to allow the workers to rebuild the deck entirely on that side.

The Bong Bridge will be closed in one direction the first year, then the other direction in the second year. Dickenson says he’s not sure if it’ll be the Duluth or Superior-bound direction that will be closed the first year.

The project comes with a cost to taxpayers.

Dickenson says the roundabout will open when the $11 million Bong reconstruction project is finished in 2015. The roundabout itself will cost between $400,000 and $600,000. On the Duluth side, the approach from the Bong Bridge will remain much the way it is now, an intersection controlled by traffic lights.

The roundabout wasn't originally included as part of the plans.  Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen believes that it will be a worthwhile addition to the local highway system.

Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen says it’s a great idea, one that he wholeheartedly supports.

“This is the first roundabout north of Rice Lake. It’s exciting. I’ve had the opportunity to use roundabouts and it may get a little confusing but there’ll be no signalization. They do tell us that roundabouts have a better record for fewer accidents than do signalized intersections.

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