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Editorial: Now what will we be able to complain about here?

All four lanes of the new Highway 61 bridge in Hastings are open.

For as long as we can remember, we’ve written about the bridge. We wrote about Hastings’ need for a new bridge; Hastings getting the funding for a new bridge; construction starting; construction continuing; and, now, construction finishing.

Like most of you, we’ve grumbled at times. We’ve complained at times. And we got impatient.

What we saw Friday, though, was worth the wait. Four lanes of traffic coming and going. No backups coming into Hastings. It’s just a great sight.

Now, though, we have another problem to worry about. Where is all of this traffic coming from? While we are excited about the bridge opening, we also think that the project could create a few new problems. We’ve seen the level of traffic increase on Vermillion Street around rush hour, and since getting across the new bridge is so much easier nowadays, we think the problem is only going to get worse.

When we reference how much traffic the old bridge saw, we continually cite a 12-year-old study, which says Hastings has 33,000 bridge travelers every day. We expect that number is much higher now, and we’d like to encourage MnDOT to do another study so we know how much has changed in the past decade.

Regardless, seeing traffic come and go with such relative ease is a sight for sore eyes. We hope the businesses in downtown Hastings that were impacted by the construction can now enjoy some construction-free months and years worth of prosperity.