Bridge aesthetic budget broken downMore than $2 million will be spent on and around the new Highway 61 bridge on what are deemed aesthetic enhancements such as decorative lighting, railings and retaining walls, trails, overlooks and an interpretive plaza.
By: Keith Grauman, The Hastings Star-Gazette
More than $2 million will be spent on and around the new Highway 61 bridge on what are deemed aesthetic enhancements such as decorative lighting, railings and retaining walls, trails, overlooks and an interpretive plaza.
The money is split into three funds, one for the bridge itself, one for the roadway, and a third for retaining walls, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has strict guidelines for how the money is allocated, depending on the scope of a project.
The Visual Quality Team, made up of citizens, elected officials, city staff, MnDOT staff and others, has spent the past year deciding how the money will be spent. Representatives from MnDOT gave the Hastings City Council an overview of the expenditures at a recent meeting.
The largest of the funds is for bridge aesthetics. About $390,000 will be spent to separate the single-span bridge into two spans from about the southern shore of the river to Third Street, which is meant to allow natural light down to Second Street and the parking lot and park area below the bridge.
Another $340,000 is being spent on decorative traffic barriers on the bridge, instead of the standard concrete barriers MnDOT uses on most bridges. About $120,000 will go toward decorative pedestrian railings, which will be on the outside of the trail that will go across the east side of the bridge.
The trail over the bridge will also include two pedestrian overlooks, at a cost of about $60,000. Ornamental lighting on the bridge will account for about $350,000.
The roadway budget covers a wide range of expenditures. Topping the list at about $478,000 is the replacement of the existing lattice tower on the east side of the bridge. MnDOT has to replace the western lattice tower with a steel monopole for construction purposes, but there is no need for it to replace the eastern tower. The city felt it was important for the two structures to match, as they will be components of the first view of the city drivers will see as they enter Hastings from the north.
An idea that hasn’t been finalized, but is still being considered by MnDOT, is the creation of a $180,000 river overlook under the bridge; the overlook would be located just off the trail that currently runs under the bridge and through Levee Park.
An $87,000 interpretive plaza will also be located under the bridge. The layout of the plaza hasn’t been completely decided on, but some options being considered include an interpretive sign about past bridges in Hastings, a bulletin board where the city and community members could post signs for events, benches and picnic tables, and green space.
A parking lot with space for 30 cars will be built under the bridge, at a cost of $18,000.
A trail connection from atop the bridge, around the eastern bridge approach, across Second Street, and connecting with the trail along the river, complete with lighting, will be built ay a cost of $61,000.
Retaining walls north and south of the bridge have a budget of about $65,000. There’s a possibility of using a stamped concrete pattern in the walls, and some natural limestone blocks.
As it was presented to the council, the list of roadway expenditures was about $130,000 higher than the allotted budget from MnDOT. Since that meeting, the Visual Quality Team eliminated a $25,000 stone-by-stone relocation of the monument and plaque that’s located at the southwest corner of Second Street and the east bridge approach, instead opting to remove the plaque and have it mounted onto the bridge abutment somewhere at a cost of about $1,000. About $100,000 in decorative lighting that was to be installed north of the bridge was also eliminated.
MnDOT Project Manager Steve Kordosky said as the Visual Quality team worked through the details and got down to specific costs on each desired item, it became easier to identify priorities and pare down the list of aesthetic items.
All of the aesthetic items have been worked into a document called the visual quality manual, which will be a part of the request for proposals that will be released next month to potential contractors.