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Major work planned for Highway 61 this summer

Spring brings potholes and if Hastings residents can put up with the potholes and cracks along Highway 61 within the city for just a little bit longer, there is hope.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has scheduled a new resurfacing project for the two-miles of the highway within the city limits, from Fifth Street to Cannon Street, scheduled to begin in mid-May.

The MnDOT project includes milling (the bad portions of the surfacing are ground off) and a two-inch bituminous overlay of the road. It also includes pedestrian upgrades at the 10th and 15th street signals, new sidewalk near 24th and Vermillion streets, curb ramp modifications for Americans with Disability Act compliance.

MnDOT has also scheduled a signal upgrade at County Road 46 and Vermillion Street. The city of Hastings is partially funding the cost for the signal work.

"This new surfacing will extend the life of the road eight to 10 years," said Diane Langenbach, MnDOT project manager for the south metro area. "This is a maintenance project for the road."

MnDOT released the documents for the project in December and expects to award the contracts sometime this spring, she said.

"We are expecting a mid-May start," Langenbach said, "with the work expected to complete by July 31."

That completion date is very important as it is the earliest start date for some work to begin for the Highway 61 bridge replacement project (see next week's story).

"You will see some signal work first," Langenbach said. "That occurs before the start of the actual mill/overlay process."

MnDOT is aware, and the contractor will be aware of, the Cruise-in car shows scheduled to begin at the end of May in the downtown area and the annual Rivertown Days festival scheduled for the third weekend in July. The city of Hastings, through engineer Nick Egger, and the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce have been in ongoing discussions about this project and the bridge project with MnDOT. There are meetings planned with the downtown businesses about the scheduling of the project.

"We will be working with the businesses about the traffic impact on them," Langenbach said. Open house meetings are planned for later this month on this project and the Highway 61 project through Cottage Grove (see separate story).

At no time during the Vermillion Street project will the road be closed to traffic, Langenbach said.

"Either the traffic - two lanes - will be going on the northbound or the southbound side," she said.

Communications with the affected businesses and/or individuals is important to MnDOT, Langenbach added, and will be part of the project. Updates will be provided through e-mail messages from MnDOT. Interested individuals will be able to sign up to receive those messages through the Hastings bridge site on the MnDOT website at