Project Updates

April 5, 2024

Crews are constructing the piers for the new BNSF Railway bridge over the Missouri River at Bismarck and Mandan. After a brief pause during winter, work began with pile driving for Pier 9 on the west side and will begin soon for Pier 8 near the west riverbank.

Barges have been assembled to serve as a base for equipment used during in-water construction, including long-reach excavators, cranes, bucket lifts, welders, and pile hammers.

With barges in place, preparation is underway for work at Pier 7, one of the two piers in the main river channel. Throughout the project, the river will always have an open channel for recreational users.

Shown above are initial foundation pile for Pier 9. Markings on the pile indicate depth of pile in the ground, which is tracked to determine the amount of piling needed to complete the job.

March 14, 2024

As the weather cooperates this spring, crews are remobilizing at the construction site of the BNSF bridge between Mandan and Bismarck.  Construction of the new piers will continue as we estimate driving H pile for Piers 9 and 8 on the west side of the Missouri River beginning the week of March 18. This work will occur during daylight hours and could include Saturdays.

Crews will remain on the west side of the river for much of the 2024 season.  In addition to Piers 9 and 8, plans call for Pier 7 in the river channel to be constructed in 2024-2025. It’s estimated that work on Pier 7 will occur later this summer. The river piers on the east side of the channel will now be constructed in 2025-2026.

In Bismarck, River Road Trail will remain open for most of 2024 for recreational users, but once crews start staging equipment and preparing for pier construction on the east side, a portion of the trail will be closed for the safety of the public for the duration of the project. We understand the impact of this trail closure on the community, but to complete the project safely and efficiently, we have to utilize the railroad right of way without concerns for people walking or biking in the active construction site.

Piers on the east end of the project will be constructed mid to late-summer 2024. Spans on the east and west ends of the bridge may be hoisted in place.

Construction of the new embankment northwest of the existing bridge will resume this month and should be completed later this fall. Based on the agreement reached with the North Dakota Department of Transportation (ND DOT) and like last summer, westbound trucks will exit Liberty Memorial Bridge and traverse the access road on DOT right of way adjacent to I-I94 to bring in equipment and material. This keeps construction traffic away from local roads.

The project team would like to remind motorists to slow down and use caution throughout the work zone.

December 2023

Construction site viewed from northwest of existing bridge.The first construction season for the new railroad bridge between Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota is coming to a close. Like others in the region, our winter activity is dictated by weather, and mild temperatures kept crews working through most of December. 

As we wrap up 2023, here’s what’s happened to date:

  • Crews mobilized this spring and started project work with clearing trees on BNSF property on both sides of the river. 
  • An access road was constructed on ND Department of Transportation right of way for trucks hauling equipment and material.
  • The embankment for the new bridge, located north of the existing bridge, is about 35% complete.
  • Also completed is the dock wall on the west side of the river. The dock wall facilitates construction of the piers as it allows rebar and cranes to be transferred onto barges.
  • Crews have driven the sheet pile and are close to completing the cofferdam, on the west side of the river, in which Pier 8 will be constructed.
  • The sheet pile for the cofferdam at new Pier 9 has been driven. The cofferdam has not been excavated yet. 
  • BNSF received all the necessary permits and approvals for the project. Two state permits issued by the North Dakota Department of Water Resources are being challenged. The North Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments in November related to the dismissal of the challenge by the North Dakota District Court. The Supreme Court’s decision is pending. 

    View from west side of Missouri River looking east shows the embankment of the new bridge north of the existing structure. When conditions permit, more fill will be added next year to complete the embankment construction.

Heading into 2024, here’s what you can expect:

  • Depending on the weather, driving H pile for Pier 8 on the west side of the river may start yet this winter.
  • In the spring, activity on the Bismarck side will ramp up with construction of a dock wall.
  • Throughout the summer, work will take place constructing piers on the east bank as well as in the river, and piers on the west bank. 
  • Crews will work concurrently on pier construction on the east and west sides of the river, always leaving a channel open for recreational boaters. 
  • Some spans on the very east and west ends of the new bridge may be hoisted in place.

November 2023

Crews continue constructing the cofferdam for the new pier. View above of cofferdam sheet piling is from the west bank of the Missouri River. Work at the site will continue as long as weather permits.

November 6, 2023

Mid to late this week crews will begin working in two 10-hour shifts to remove material from the cofferdam in which the pier on the western edge of the river will be constructed. The shifts for this work will be 6AM to 4PM, and 4 PM to 2AM during this approximate two-week period. Night operations will follow noise mitigation measures and lighting will be directed toward the specific work area.

Also this week instead of the vibratory hammer that has been used on the project site, a transitional impact hammer will be utilized. Different more distinct sounds are associated with it and likely will be noticed by residents. The machines are used to drive the sheet pile for the cofferdam. This work will be limited to daylight hours.

We anticipate H pile driving mid-month, also during daytime operations.


October 27, 2023

Crews working on the BNSF Railway bridge project plan to complete the cofferdam and drive H pile for pier 8 on the western edge of the river this fall. To get the cofferdam work done before more winter weather sets in, crews will be working in two 10-hour shifts likely starting later next week and lasting for about two weeks. Work shifts will be 6am-4pm and 4pm-2am.

During the two shifts, teams will use a crane with a clam shell bucket to scoop sand and soil out of the cofferdam, which is the area where the pier will be constructed. Night time operations will follow noise mitigation measures such as reducing equipment operated, as well as directing lights required toward the limited work area.

Once the cofferdam soil is removed, beginning approximately November 10, H pile driving will occur. That work will take place during daylight hours. Subsequent updates will provide more precise dates for pile driving.

September 2023

Fill is added for embankment of the new bridge north of existing structure.

September 2023

As long as the weather allows, work will continue on BNSF Railway’s bridge project in Bismarck and Mandan. Trucks continue to bring in fill for building the embankment of the new bridge. On the west edge of the river, the dock wall is nearly finished. It will facilitate loading equipment and material onto barges for constructing the river piers next spring.

In the coming week, crews will start installing sheet piling for the first pier to be constructed, pier 8 on the west side of the project. Work is planned for daylight operations Monday through Friday unless circumstances change, and should take place the first few weeks of October.

View of the dock wall constructed on west side of the river.

August 2023

On Monday, August 14, crews will start installing sheet piling along the west bank of the river on the BNSF Railway bridge project. The sheet piling will be installed using vibratory equipment and is part of the construction of a dock wall. Work is planned through August, Monday through Friday from approximately 7am – 6pm unless conditions change.

The dock wall will stay in place for the duration of the project so material and equipment, such as steel pile, rebar and cranes from the shore can be transferred onto barges to construct the river piers.

Additionally, crews are finishing work on the access road built on the DOT Expressway right of way. Construction traffic to and from the site utilizes the road. Trucks are continuing to bring in fill material to the west side of the site for the new embankment.

July 14, 2023

To support construction of the new BNSF Railway bridge, an access road for construction traffic is being constructed on DOT right of way, adjacent to the Expressway. This access road is nearing completion and it is anticipated that trucking operations will begin next week. Trucks will be bringing in fill material from the Bismarck side of the river, utilizing the truck route, crossing Memorial bridge, and then will enter the access road on the DOT right of way to gain access to the west side of the bridge project site. The truckloads of fill will be used to construct embankment for the new track alignment. Additional trucks will be hauling in crane equipment and other construction material.

June 2023

Construction is scheduled to begin Wednesday, June 21, on the Memorial Highway exit ramp and northbound Interstate 194 south of the BNSF Railway underpass in Mandan.

This project involves construction of an access road to support the BNSF Railway Missouri River Bridge project.

During construction of the access road on the DOT right-of-way, a shoulder closure will be installed on the Memorial Highway exit ramp and lane closure on northbound Interstate 194 to the BNSF Railway underpass. A 12-foot width restriction will be in place on the exit ramp.

Flaggers may be used to help direct traffic through construction, and the speed limit will be reduced through the corridor. Some minimal delays for the public traversing the corridor are expected.

The construction is expected to be completed in July.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation would like to remind motorists to slow down and use caution throughout the work zone.

For more information about construction projects and road conditions throughout North Dakota, call 511 or visit the ND Roads map at

May 2023

To minimize impact to the public, BNSF Railway worked with the North Dakota Department of Transportation for a seasonal approach to accessing the construction site. In the summer, trucks hauling equipment and material for the project will use a specific ramp off the interstate to reduce wear and tear on local roads. Outside of summer months, trucks and equipment will use a combination of public roads, DOT property, and private property.


Bismarck Map

April 2023

The United States Coast Guard, as the lead federal agency on the Bismarck rail bridge replacement, has issued the permit needed for BNSF Railway to construct its new bridge. BNSF has obtained all other permits and approvals to proceed. Tree clearing on BNSF property has started on the east and west sides of the river.