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To the editor: History will be the ultimate judge on new bridge design

To the editor,

I'm a member of the Hastings Bridge Coalition and have enjoyed my experiences working with that group. It is now time for each of us to express our preference for the type of bridge we think would best serve Hastings now and allow future generations to meet their needs for the next 100 years.

All the studies and discussions have now presented us with three viable choices:

• twin box-girder bridges - (twin bridges);

• a single tied-arch bridge - (tied arch); and

• a single cable-supported bridge - (cable-supported).

We assume all three of these designs meet safety, traffic and river navigational requirements.

Nation-wide, we have seen communities and bridge designers putting more emphasis on a bridge's appearance rather than its practicality. They want iconic signature bridges. We should not let bridge aesthetics be the controlling factor. We have to consider total project costs, taking of right-of-way, constructability, and future maintenance costs. We should look at functionality, practicality, and cost to pick the most practical bridge and not to create an iconic signature bridge.

I prefer and support choosing the twin box-girder bridges.

These two bridges will provide a redundancy that cannot be provided by the other two single bridge designs.

As of May 20, 2009, the following were the estimated total project costs:

• twin bridges: $245 to $260 million;

• tied-arch bridge: $255 to $280 million; and

• cable-supported bridge: $257 to $300 million.

The twin bridges require the least amount of right-of-way to be acquired.

I am a retired civil engineer and cognizant of construction costs and future maintenance costs; again, the twin bridges win out.

As one enters the Mississippi River Valley from the north and proceeds down the hill, you see the existing truss bridge and how it blocks the panoramic view of our river city. The proposed tied arch-bridge would look much the same as we have now. The two towers needed for the cable-supported bridge would be more than twice the height of the existing truss bridge. I've driven over cable-supported bridges, and I've thought it was like looking at the scenery through a harp. The twin bridges would not project up into the sky and would allow a panoramic view of Hastings.

Whatever design is chosen ultimately, history will judge the value of this bridge to our community.

James Stoker