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MnDOT plans March 31 open house on Highway 61 projects

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will discuss the planned Highway 61 projects in and near Hastings this spring and summer at an open house from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 31, at Hastings City Hall, 101 E. Fourth St.

The resurfacing of Highway 61 (Vermillion Street) within the city limits, from Fifth Street to Cannon Street, is scheduled to begin in mid-May.

The MnDOT project includes milling (the bad portion of the surfacing is ground off) and a new two-inch bituminous overlay, pedestrian upgrades at the 10th and 15th street signals, a new sidewalk near 24th and Vermillion streets, curb ramp modifications for the Americans with Disability Act compliance. A signal upgrade at County Road 46 and Vermillion Street is also scheduled; the cost for the signal work is being partly funded by the city of Hastings.

The documents for this project were released in December, with the bid expected to be awarded this spring. A mid-May start is expected, with completion by the end of July.

The completion date is very important as it is the earliest start date for some work to begin for the Highway 61 bridge replacement project.

During the Vermillion project, there will be no road closure, although traffic may be slowed at times. With the Cruise-In car shows beginning in May, and the annual Rivertown Days festival in July, the city of Hastings, through engineer Nick Egger and the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce, has been in ongoing discussions about this project and the bridge project with MnDOT.

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.

Other projects

The planning/preparation work for the new Highway 61 bridge is on schedule. The scoping, environmental impact documents, and right-of way work has been completed; the requests for proposal for the best-value bids are in the hands of the three contractors eligible to submit bids for the project.

The technical part of the proposals are due back by mid-May, with the determination of the "best-value" bids by June 4.

A cost cap of $220 million for the new bridge has already been established. Additional monies have already been spent for the studies and the work that has already been completed, and the engineering work MnDOT has provided to contractors throughout this process.

The eight and half-mile Highway 61 concrete overlay (resurfacing/rehabilitation) project in Denmark Township is scheduled to begin in May, with completion by October. The project has been advertised for bids.

The project will be done in four stages along the highway. Each stage will run about 30 days.

There will be an impact on traffic throughout the project but the road will not be closed. Two lanes of traffic - one northbound, one southbound, will be maintained on the highway.

Anyone interested in the open house should contact the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce at 437-6775.