The Hastings High Bridge over the Mississippi River is in poor condition.
On April 9, 2008, the Minnesota State Department of Transportation announced
that it was speeding up the process to replace this bridge to make it one of
the highest priority projects over the next few years.
A new bridge project presents a unique opportunity to reshape the traffic
patterns in Hastings. Currently, over 30,000 cars a day use the High Bridge
and end up on Hastings city streets, many of which are through traffic in
the form of interstate trucking, commuters, and casino traffic. I propose
that eliminating the through traffic from the city streets of Hastings would
dramatically increase the quality of life for the city residents. In addition,
better access to modern highways would make the city more attractive both
as a stand-alone city and as a bedroom community for Twin Cities workers.
My specific proposal is to locate the new Hastings Mississippi River
Bridge approximately 1-1/2 miles downstream of the current bridge. This
new location east of the current bridge is served by the recently relocated
highway US-10. The bridge would cross the river heading south, and be
connected with 3 miles of modern freeway where it would meet MN-316.
MN-316 is a locally known short-cut to Red Wing. This proposal would
see MN-316 become the new highway US-61 alignment. Old US-61 would be
turned back to Dakota County.
The new bypass can be built in phases. The first phase would be the new
river bridge and a new east side entrance to the City of Hastings. A
second phase would be the freeway from the river bridge to MN-316. A
third phase would be a relocation and upgrade of MN-55 to be a freeway
or 4-lane divided expressway from west of the city and around the southwest
side of Hastings, meeting up with the new US-61 bypass.
These two bypass routes form three-fourths of a circle around Hastings.
The US-61 route would eliminate north-south traffic from city streets.
The MN-55 freeway would move east to north and east to south traffic off
of city streets. The current west entrance to the city would continue
to be served by a 4-lane expressway with an exit off of MN-55. A new
east side entrance to Hastings would be able to be developed. Finally,
the freeway would provide access for future growth in the southeast side
of the city below Dakota Co Highway 46.
The US-61 phases of this project runs along a path that is close to
the city yet undeveloped. It would not require destroying any expensive
riverside homes. The land currently has poor access, so it is of lower
value. The first phase of the US-61 project could be funded by currently
identified river bridge replacement money. The remaining part of the US-61
bypass requires only 3 miles of new freeway construction.