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The new Highway 61 bridge in Hastings was all lit up on Friday night as it opened in full. The lights pictured here are still in the testing stages, but will soon be on every night. Photo courtesy of Dave Youngren, Hastings Bridge Watch
The new Highway 61 bridge in Hastings was all lit up on Friday night as it opened in full. The lights pictured here are still in the testing stages, but will soon be on every night. Photo courtesy of Dave Youngren, Hastings Bridge Watch

Bridge fully open; dedication is Friday

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news Hastings, 55033

Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

The drive across the Highway 61 bridge in Hastings has gotten a lot easier.

This past weekend, bridge crews opened all four lanes to traffic, eliminating merging zones and easing congestion on both ends of the project.

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Both southbound lanes opened at about 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. About an hour and a half later, both northbound lanes were opened.

The full opening of the bridge came slightly ahead of a previously released schedule that predicted the opening would happen Saturday afternoon. But as work continued, it became apparent that the milestone would be possible a day sooner.

While traffic might be a little smoother now, bridge work isn’t completely finished.

Landscaping work continues on the north side of the river, and crews are working on the median and railing on the south end. Intermittent lane closures during non-peak traffic times are still possible over the bridge through mid-December as well as next spring.

Work still remains to be done underneath the bridge along Second Street.

The blue span of the old bridge is gone, but the old piers still remain. Those are the next focus of the demolition team.

Lighting

The new bridge attracted quite a bit of attention over the weekend, especially at night. Crews tested the aesthetic lighting – lines of white lights running along the undersides of the arches. The weekend’s lighting was just a test, however, and the lights are expected to remain off until the project’s full completion.

Bridge dedication

A public bridge dedication ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at City Hall in the council chambers. Overflow space with a live feed will be available in the community room.

The program includes remarks from Hastings community members and leaders, project leaders and elected officials.

The speakers will be followed by an official ribbon cutting and, weather permitting, a short walk down to view the unveiling of the Hastings themed murals installed under the Second Street overpass.

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