Significant flood could cause delay in Hastings bridge project
It's too early to tell, but it is possible the flood expected in Hastings this spring could delay the construction of the new Hastings bridge.
Preparations are under way by the project's contractor, Lunda/Ames, and by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, to prevent the timeline from being affected, but if the flood is a catastrophic one the schedule could very well be affected.
Built into the contract are stipulations that would allow the contractor to seek extra time to complete the project. If the water level surpasses a certain level at any given point, or if it remains a certain level for 28 consecutive days, the contractor could ask for additional time to complete the project, which could push back the May 2013 completion date.
Of course, flooding in Hastings is almost an annual event. That said, one of the criterion used by MnDOT in evaluating proposals from contractors was their plan to deal with a flood.
One of the reasons why Lunda/Ames won the contract was their flood plan, which called for their employees to be doing work out of the river for the entire month of April.
That way, should the river rise to a level that would prevent any work from happening in the water for the month, the project would remain on schedule. During April, the contractor plans to have its employees doing utility work between Second Street and the river.
Even if the high water lasts into April, it's not a certainty that the project would be delayed, according to Steve Kordosky, the project manager at MnDOT. The contractor could make up the time on their own, or they could potentially work overtime on Saturdays and Sundays to catch up. Those decisions on overtime are a long ways from being made, Kordosky said.
The current bridge will remain open throughout construction of the new bridge. This point continues to be stressed by MnDOT, but there are still a number of people in the area who think the current bridge will be closed.
An open house on the project is planned for March 31 at City Hall.
It appears that pile driving for the project will not be complete before the flood waters arrive.
Pilings for the three northernmost piers are complete.
Pilings for pier seven (also located on the north side of the bridge) will begin soon, but it doesn't appear as though they'll be completed before the flood arrives.
Pilings for the enormous pier six, the main pier in the water, will wait to be driven until the floodwaters reside.
The current bridge will be reduced to one lane between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in late April for the annual bridge inspection.
Outreach efforts continue by Kordosky and by Colin Cox, the community liaison for the project. Both men have their office in Hastings at 624 Spiral Blvd., a space they share with the contractors and a number of MnDOT employees.
They met with Boy Scout troops last week and had a presentation with students from Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, too.
A meeting was also recently conducted with the Downtown Business Association and other ones are planned with the owners of the three marinas on the north side of the river and one with the businesses along Highway 61 between Fifth Street and the river.
The shafts have been drilled and poured for pier five, which is located in downtown Hastings at the river's edge.
The footing for pier five will be poured in mid-March.
Plans for the area under the bridge in downtown Hastings continue to take shape.
A significant change with the project has been the development with Hudson Manufacturing Co. With the city owning that space, there will no longer be a need for a road down to the river from Second Street. Original plans had a road there to allow truck traffic to reach the loading docks at Hudson.
Additional parking will be added, bringing the total number of spaces under the bridge to 46.
The artwork for a mural under the bridge has been accepted by the Visual Quality Team in Hastings and the State Historic Preservation Office.
Craig David, a Twin Cities artist, will do the mural.
Large concrete benches will be located under the bridge in downtown Hastings.
The benches will serve one obvious purpose: they'll be a place for people to sit.
One not-as-obvious reason for them to be there is to protect the piers from traffic.
The benches will be securely mounted and their presence should prevent anyone from running into a pier with their car.
As expected, crews have come across some contaminated soil so far. Prior to the project, MnDOT had run some tests and they knew what was underneath the surface, so a plan was put in place to deal with the contaminated soil.
Much of what was found to be contaminated contained non-hazardous levels of chlorinated solvents which, according to worker-health.org, are used for a "variety of commercial and industrial purposes, including degreasers, cleaning solutions, paint thinners, pesticides, resins, glues, and a host of other mixing and thinning solutions."
The contaminated soil is being taken to SKB Environmental on Highway 55 between Hastings and Rosemount.
It is all being handled according to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency standards, Kordosky said.
There was one surprise when it came to the soil. When conducting soil samples, the contractor found a heavy concentration of mercury in a small area.
That area was excavated and the contaminated soil was taken to a hazardous disposal site in Wisconsin.
The bedrock on the north side of the river was located between 180 and 200 feet below the surface.
The vibration from the pile driving continues to be studied, but the problem doesn't appear to be severe, Kordosky said.
"We're not seeing a lot of vibration at this time," he said.
MnDOT did complete pre-construction surveys of the buildings in downtown Hastings to determine the condition of the buildings.
Once construction concluded, another survey will be done to see if anything changed.
The carpool lot near The Point at the intersection of highways 61 and 10 will likely soon close to allow the contractors to store equipment while the river level rises.
Signs will be posted once the date for the closure is determined.