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Citizens tell bridge type preferences

HASTINGS, Minn. -- citizens got their first look at the four bridge types being considered for the Hastings bridge replacement at an open house.

While opinions on the different designs were mixed, they were generally positive.

Don Eddy, a Hastings native, said he's always thought of the current bridge as "the new bridge."

"Because people my age are old enough to remember the Spiral Bridge," he said.

Eddy likes the uniqueness of the cable-supported bridge design that's being considered. He also said the arch bridge being considered would be the most inconspicuous replacement bridge because, of the four, it most closely resembles the current bridge.

Larry Wollmering agreed he liked the cable-supported bridge the most because of its individually.

"We are the Spiral Bridge city, after all," he said.

Wollmering disliked the twin box girder bridge that's being considered because he said two twin spans over the river "looks cumbersome." He'd rather see one four-lane span built in Hastings.

Eddy was also glad to see that a 12-foot-wide pedestrian and bike trail is incorporated into all four bridge types. The current sidewalk on the bridge is less than five feet wide and Eddy walks his bike over the bridge when crossing it.

"Now I get to bike over bridge number three," he said.

Janis Zeller, who lives just north of the bridge, thought twin spans would improve safety for the river crossing because, if there were ever an accident or if one span collapsed, the other span would be in place to shift traffic onto.

Zeller's utmost concern, and main reason for attending the open house, was to make sure the bridge wasn't going to drastically change locations. Because she lives just north of the bridge, she was worried the roadway alignment might be shifted, but was relieved to see all the bridge types being considered generally use the same footprint the current bridge uses.

Location, safety and then aesthetics were the order of Zeller's concerns.

Hastings City Council Member Mike Slavik was recently appointed to a new Visual Quality Committee being organized by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Slavik said the committee, made up of elected officials and city staff, will primarily work with MnDOT on the aesthetics of the new bridge, and certain cultural, historical and environmental aspects. Slavik said the committee will think about more than the raw bricks and mortar.

"We want to make sure the bridge is not just practical, but really a true representation of Hastings," he said.

Slavik said he's reserving judgment on which bridge type he likes the best until he learns more about them.

Steve Kordosky, the MnDOT project manager for the bridge replacement, presented a schedule for what will happen next with the project.

Throughout the rest of the year and into 2009, the four bridge alternatives will be looked at through an environmental document, which will examine the impact each bridge type has on the amount of right-of-way MnDOT would need to acquire, and the social, historical and visual impacts.

Renderings of what each bridge type would look like from different angles in the city will also be created as part of the visual quality analysis.

There will be another public open house in February 2009 and a public hearing on the environmental document in May 2009.

By August 2009, MnDOT will zero in on the final bridge type that will be carried into the design-build contract. That contract is expected to go out for bids in November 2009.

By June 2010, a contractor will be selected, and by late summer or early fall 2010, significant construction work on the bridge site is planned to begin.