The first European to cross the Mississippi River was Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto by boat in 1541, and then railroads crossed it in 1856. But navigating the river has never been easy, even today.

Workers just finished a CapX2020 345/161/69-kV transmission line spanning 1.3 miles (2 km) over the Mississippi River near Kellogg, Minnesota, and Alma, Wisconsin. It is part of the 150-mile (241 km) Hampton–Rochester–La Crosse transmission line project. The completion was a feat for professionals who used creativity, skill and determination to overcome the challenges of the river crossing.

Xcel Energy, CapX2020, Mississippi Crossing
Because of poor soil and the need to protect the foundations from flood waters, the river crossing required 15 pile cap foundations, which consist of 362 16-inch pipe piles, some driven as deep as 130 ft. Six of the foundations were built on the island and peninsula.

A Joint Initiative

The work is part of CapX2020, a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The initiative was formed to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service, and to meet state and regional energy policy goals, including renewable energy mandates.

The 345-kV line provides an electrical upgrade to a remote area known for its beauty. The Mississippi River cuts through wooded rolling hills on both sides and is home to a national wildlife refuge and an important flyway for migratory birds. Therefore, careful consideration had to be given to every step of the project.

Xcel Energy, CapX2020, Mississippi Crossing
A barge was used to deliver more than 150 concrete trucks to the island and peninsula.