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Out with the old, in with the new: Milestone moment for new Hastings bridge comes next week

The current Hastings bridge is pictured here last week as a storm entered the city.

The landscape in Hastings is about to change dramatically. Next week, the 6.5 million pound main span for the new Hastings bridge will be floated into place, its two bright arches set to dominate the riverscape here for the next 100 years.

That big move will necessitate the closure of the current Highway 61 bridge, and residents, schools and businesses have been busy preparing for the shutdown for a few weeks now.

The move is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.

As of press time, it looks as though the bridge would close at about 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6. The bridge could reopen as early as mid-morning Saturday, Sept. 8.

River traffic and the public boat launch here would be shut down in the area, too. Boaters will not be able to be in the area between the railroad bridge and the lock and dam here.

For people interested in watching the events unfold in person, Jaycee Park will be open for spectators. That is the area just south of the boat launch. The area near downtown, Levee Park, will also be open for viewers.

"Those areas will be pretty accessible," chief of police Paul Schnell said. "The areas that will be closed will be very clearly delineated with police tape, and very clearly marked."

This newspaper's website will also feature live streaming video of the move, as well as time-lapse video that will compress a day's worth of action into six minutes.

It is expected that the bridge will be jacked up into place beginning sometime around 8 p.m. Friday evening. The work will continue into the nighttime hours.


Hastings police have been working closely with several other agencies to formulate a plan for the move.

"Obviously, when you are talking about a significant piece of infrastructure that is of importance to this community and to the region, it is necessary for us to develop very comprehensive safety and security plans," he said. "That has been going on for the last several weeks with all of our partners."

Helping out with the plan include the Hastings Fire Department, Dakota County Sheriff's Office, the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Coast Guard, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Dakota Communications Center.

The only vehicles that will be allowed on the bridge during the move are emergency vehicles and construction vehicles.