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Highway 61 bridge in Hastings

Highway 61 bridge in Hastings/Photo by Alissa Haupt
Highway 61 bridge in Hastings/Photo by Alissa Haupt

Issues: The bridge is functionally obsolete. It was built with standards that don’t meet today’s federal requirements for a new bridge. The road is not wide enough, and vertical clearance for vehicles isn’t high enough. There is some section loss in non-critical areas, meaning the steel in certain areas has corroded and worn thin over time. The sidewalk is narrow and unprotected. The Hastings bridge was one of 25 bridges with a design similar to the I-35W bridge. As a result, bracing was added to some of the bridge’s gusset plates this summer.

Fracture critical? Yes

Structurally deficient? Yes

Sufficiency rating: 38.1

Deck rating: 5

Superstructure rating: 4

Substructure rating: 5

Length: 1,857 feet

Width: 32 feet

Average daily traffic: 32,500 vehicles

Passes over: Mississippi River

Constructed in: 1950

Construction starts in: 2010

Construction should finish: Between 2013 and 2014

Cost: $275 million to $335 million

Detour: No detour. The new bridge will be built parallel to the existing structure so traffic can be maintained.

New bridge: The new bridge will include bike and walking paths and four lanes of traffic. There are four design options under consideration:

1. Twin box girder bridges: Demolition of current structure; construction of two two-lane concrete bridges.

2. Arch bridge: An arch bridge up-river from the current bridge; would look similar to the existing structure.

3. Rehabilitation of existing bridge: The existing bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, so rehabilitation is being considered. A new two-lane bridge would be constructed next to the existing structure. This option would take the longest — six to seven years.

4. Single cable bridge: Very different from original; high visual impact.

Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation

Alleen Brown is a senior journalism and global studies student at the University of Minnesota.

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