As water rises, bridge work in the river ceases
Earlier this month, there were reasons for the contractors working on the new Hastings bridge to be optimistic. While predictions called for the possibility of significant flooding, the weather was cooperating and it looked possible that a devastating flood was going to be averted.
That optimism was thrown out the window this week.
"There was some optimism that the levels wouldn't reach what was forecast, but it looks like they're going to," bridge project manager Steve Kordosky said this week. "The rain we got (Tuesday) didn't help the situation."
By the end of the day Tuesday, all work within the river had come to an end, and contractors got busy moving their equipment out of the way. The staging area on Lock and Dam Road, for example, is being vacated right now. Floodwaters are expected to swamp the area sometime next week.
"We've been monitoring the flood forecast pretty seriously here for quite a while," Kordosky said. "Right now, we're looking at elevations that are going to push us up and out of the river."
Just how long the floodwaters stick around will determine whether or not the high water has an impact on the project's timetable.
The contractor for the project, Lunda/Ames, planned for flooding and their schedule calls for no work to be done in the river for the entire month of April. Should the floodwaters recede by the end of April, the high water won't affect the schedule.
If they do last for longer, though, the project's schedule could be adversely affected.
"We looked at the schedule again (Tuesday)," said Kordosky, who works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "Our next piece of work in the river that's on the critical path is on Monday, May 2. If the water prohibits us from getting out there, we'd be looking at a delay in the overall completion date of the contract. There are ways to mitigate that by working Saturdays and things like that. If we were to lose a week in May, there are ways to accelerate the project and keep the completion date the same."
The project will be completed by May 31, 2013.
Two lanes of traffic will be open during the project, and the river will remain open to boat traffic.
While the contractor won't be working in the river during April, they will be hard at work on other aspects of the project.
Storm sewer work and utility work will begin soon.
That project will begin near the parking spaces under the current Highway 61 bridge.
Because so many parking spots will be lost during the utility work, MnDOT has planned some changes for the two ramps near the bridge in downtown Hastings. Each ramp will be cut down to one lane and angled parking will be allowed on each.
For example: Let's imagine you are heading in to Hastings on Highway 61. You cross the bridge and want to circle back under the span to shop in downtown Hastings. The change you would see would be that the ramp down to Second Street would be for northbound traffic only, and there would be parking on the street.
Let's say, though, that you were in downtown Hastings and wanted to get on southbound Highway 61. You'd no longer be able to use the ramp near First National Bank and Haley Comfort Systems to do that. You'd have to either take Sibley Street to Fourth Street or take Eddy Street to Fourth Street.
This change will take place once there is a sunny day, which would allow the roadway to dry so that striping can be put in place.