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Hastings bridge is coming down

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It's official: The big blue bridge across the Mississippi River in Hastings will be coming down.

For many, that may have already seemed like a given, but due to its age and eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge engineers had to consider rehabilitating the current bridge as part of the scoping study that looked at the future of the river crossing.

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What those engineers decided was that in order to keep the current bridge operational for the next 75 years, they would not only have to replace or refurbish almost every piece of the bridge, but would also have to essentially build a second bridge around it to keep it in the air.

That brings the total number of bridge types still being considered for Hastings to three: a twin-span box girder bridge, an single-span arch bridge, and a single-span cable-supported bridge.

MnDOT, the State Historical Preservation Office, and Hastings' Heritage Preservation Commission all agreed the changes that would have had to be made to the current bridge to keep it operational would have altered it so drastically it would likely no longer be eligible for the national register, and would take away from the historic feel of the bridge in general.

Rehabbing the current bridge would have also added about three years onto the already three- to five-year time table for construction and brought the cost up from around $250 million to $300 million.

Had the rehab option gone through, a second two-lane arch bridge would have been constructed immediately to the west of the current bridge, with northbound traffic then being shifted onto the current bridge and southbound traffic on the new bridge.

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