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MnDOT lays out changes that will come with new bridge

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The Hastings City Council got an overview of the proposed layout for the new Hastings bridge Monday night, including a rundown of some changes residents will notice during construction and once the new bridge is complete.

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Representatives of the Minnesota Department of Transportation presented the plans to the council, city staff and several members of the public.

The meeting was another step in the process toward what MnDOT calls "municipal consent," which is required for a project of this magnitude. Essentially, the city needs to sign off on the general layout plans for the new bridge before it can be let out for bids.

MnDOT would like to have all approvals, environmental documents, permits and agreements such as municipal consent wrapped up by November so it can release the project to contractors for bids.

Large 11- by 17-inch pieces of paper showing the proposed layout on the north and south sides of the bridge were distributed to the council at the meeting, and MnDOT Engineering Specialist Jamal Love went over the plans piece by piece, explaining the changes the area will undergo during and after construction of the new bridge.

The design of the bridge that will be built will be decided July 14 and released to the public July 15, but the physical layout for all three bridge types being considered (twin box girder, single cable-supported and single arch) is essentially the same.

The constant among all three bridge types is that the new bridge will have two lanes of traffic in each direction, eight-foot shoulders next to the outside lanes, and a 12-foot pedestrian and bike trail on the east side of the bridge. The new bridge will be built with a 100-year lifespan.

South side - what will change

• When coming into Hastings off the new bridge, a raised concrete median barrier (similar to what was installed last summer on Highway 61 north of the bridge) will extend from the bridge to about halfway between Third and Fourth Streets. The median will prevent cross-over vehicle accidents and will also cut off pedestrians' ability to cross Vermillion Street at Third Street.

• The bicycle and pedestrian trail that will come off the bridge will wrap around the east bridge approach and head down to Second Street, where it will cross the street, run along the west side of the Mississippi Belle building, and connect with the existing trail that runs along the river.

• The trail along the river will be temporarily closed during construction between Sibley or Ramsey streets and Lock and Dam Road. A detour will be in place for users of the trail that will take them up to Second Street and over to Lock and Dam Road.

• To allow trucks to access H.D. Hudson Manufacturing during the bridge construction, trucks will be routed to Lock and Dam Road, where they'll turn around in the far northwest parking lot at Lake Rebecca Park, which will be closed to regular traffic. The trucks will then drive on the river trail to access a loading dock on the north side of Hudson's building.

• The Motor Parts Services building will be demolished to make way for the wider bridge.

• A steel warehouse building on the H.D. Hudson Manufacturing site will be demolished to allow for construction of the bridge. It may be partially rebuilt once the project is completed.

• The intersection of Fourth and Vermillion streets will become compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act by making the ramps up the curbs less steep.

• A sidewalk will be added onto the west side of the west bridge approach in front of Haley Comfort Systems and First National Bank.

• Parking on Second Street directly under the bridge will be prohibited, and the curb-cut parking on the east side of Vermillion Street north of Fourth Street will be removed.

• Drivers will no longer have to merge from two lanes down to one as they access the bridge.

South side - what will stay the same

• Parking will be maintained in the area under the bridge north of Second Street, along the west side of Vermillion Street north of Fourth Street, and on both bridge approaches.

• Drivers' ability to turn onto northbound and southbound Vermillion Street from either side of Third Street will be maintained.

• Access to the businesses on the west side of Vermillion Street north of Fourth Street won't change.

North side - what will change

• A raised concrete median barrier will run along the entire span of the bridge and extend to about 60 feet south of the railroad bridge near the entrance to King's Cove Marina. The median will prevent cross-over vehicle accidents, which have been a problem in that area and have caused several deaths in recent years.

• Another visible change will be the creation of what's being called the North Loop Road, a road that will come off Highway 61 near the bridge and run in a U-shape underneath it. The raised concrete median barrier that will be built will cut off the cross traffic near the bridge that exists today, and change access to Hub's Landing and Marina. The North Loop Road will allow northbound and southbound traffic to take right turns off the highway and still access Hub's, instead of making lefts and having to cross traffic.

• A ponding basin to collect storm water runoff from the bridge will be constructed on the west side of Highway 61 to the west of the North Loop Road.

• A bicycle and pedestrian trail will come off the bridge and connect with the North Loop Road. Eventually, it's hoped the trail will connect to Washington County's Point Douglas Trail, which will connect Hastings to Prescott. All the right of way for that trail has been secured by Washington County, but the project has yet to be funded or put on any realistic time table.

• A building to house the anti-icing equipment for the bridge will be built on the abutment on the west side of the Highway 61 between the roadway and the North Loop Road.

• Drivers will no longer have to merge from two lanes down to one as they access the bridge.

North side - what will stay the same

• Access to King's Cove Marina will remain unchanged, although that issue has been somewhat of a sticking point between the city and MnDOT. The city feels that cross traffic so close to the bridge isn't safe, but MnDOT says if access to King's Cove is changed in the future, it will be as part of the Point Douglas Trail project.

• Nothing will change north of the entrance to King's Cove.

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