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Work begins on BNSF bridge linking Iowa, Ill.

Construction has begun on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad bridge over the Mississippi River in Burlington, the Associated Press reported.

The work began ahead of schedule to build a new lift-span bridge that will more than double the navigation channel for barges to 307 feet.

The Coast Guard has long wanted the bridge repaired because the span linking Iowa and Illinois is hit so frequently by barges. That happened 92 times from 1992 to 2001.

Congress has allocated $55 million for the bridge work. Officials still haven't decided the full extent of work on the 118-year-old bridge beyond replacing the lift span.

About 30 trains a day cross the bridge. The span opens about 300 times a month for river traffic.

(The preceding Associated Press article was distributed November 28, 2009.)

See a photo of the existing bridge at http://www.johnweeks.com/river_mississippi/railB/burlrr10.jpg


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