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Bridge design options taking shape

PRESCOTT--When the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) narrowed the number of remaining design options for the new Minn. Hwy. 61 bridge in Hastings, Minn., to two, arch and cable, it didn't get any more specific than that.

Now, however, the Visual Quality Team, which has been meeting for about a year to discuss the aesthetics of everything involved with the project, has come up with recommendations for how the bridges themselves will look, and those recommendations will be part of the request for proposals MnDOT will release in late November.

MnDOT is including both bridge types in the request for proposals in hopes it will lead to more competitive bidding from contractors, and thus, a lower overall cost for the project.

The Visual Quality Team's recommendation for the arch bridge is what's called a "basket handle" design. Where the arches on the current bridge run parallel to one another in straight lines, the basket handle design has both arches sloping toward each other as they get higher, and coming together to touch at the peak of the arch. The exact design could change slightly as design-build contractors tweak it.

The Visual Quality Team also came up with a recommendation for the design of the towers on the cable bridge. From the river to the top of the towers, they'd be shaped like thin diamonds, with the widest part where the bridge deck is located, getting thinner from the road to the top of the tower, and from the road down to the river.

For more please read the Oct. 21 print version of the Herald.