The New Hastings Bridge Construction Photos

October 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Bridges, Streets, and Highways | Leave a comment
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The Hastings High Bridge was built in the early 1950s to replace the old Spiral Bridge. Like the Spiral Bridge it became an icon of the town, but eventually age and increasing traffic demands took it’s toll. It was the only two-lane stretch on the expressway from Hastings to downtown St. Paul, causing a horrific traffic congestion problem. Residents clamored for a new bridge, but it was a low priority for Mn/DOT. This was the time when Molnau was appointed as a stooge by governor Pawlenty specifically to slash the agencies budget to shreds. The bridge could have probably been patched up another decade or too so nothing meaningful on a replacement was done. Then another bridge fell…

Alhough it’s hard to say if Mn/DOT cost cutting was the reason for the collapse of the I-35W bridge (one proposal to reinforce it was rejected because there were fears it might actually weaken it, not just for cost reasons) , it was an easy scapegoat. The legislature overrode Pawlenties veto of a gasoline tax increase throwing money into Mn/DOT’s lap to replace all the structurally deficient bridges in the state, and thus things got moving. Hastings decided they wanted a new signature bridge, although this choice was not without controversy, some wanted a vanilla girder bridge to make it easier for motorists to see the river and not detract from the buildings). Contractors were invited to bid on either tied arch span or a cable stayed bridge, and a tied arch span was what was bid on. Although the decision was aesthetic, unlike the Lowry Bridge there was at least an engineering reason not to built a generic bridge, an arch allowed a wider channel for barges.

The new bridge was only built to be four lanes. Although it’s forecast to be congested at the end of the planning horizon, building six lanes would have just moved the problem to once traffic wound up on Vermillion Street, and the capacity problem there would never be solved. Ultimately I think a bypass should be built when congestion mounts to get through traffic off the bridge and Vermillion Street. I also think the old bridge should have been saved; it was offered to the city of Hastings but they didn’t want it. They’re still lamenting the destruction of the spiral bridge and in time I think they will wish they had preserved this one.

Hastings Bridge Construction Sign

Construction Sign

Hastings High Bridge

Profile of the old High Bridge


Oblique View

H.D. Hudson Building

The H.D Hudson building. In later years they made plastic spray nozzles. The company was founded in 1905, and was located in this historic building by the bridge. The bridge required demolition of a nondescript warehouse attached to it, rather than rebuild the warehouse on site the company took the money and moved to the industrial park on the south end of town in 2011. Three years later, by now mainly located in Chicago, they closed down their Hastings manufacturing entirely. The city of Hastings owns the old buildings and is still trying to figure out a reuse for them.


Bridge Mural


The arch under construction in a park nearby


Showing where the arch was built in relation to the bridge.


Concrete Piers


Under the bridges


The arch was loaded onto barges for the short trip to the new bridge. Here it’s floating on the water, framed by the concrete of the new bridge


Equipment to help line up and lift the arch into place


The arch slowly going up


Spectators to see the arch being raised. I was able to see it as it was delayed a week so I was back from a vacation in North Carolina


Steel and Sunset


The arch in position, taken later that winter


Opening Day for the New Span. At this point they had shifted southbound traffic onto the new bridge while northbound traffic was on the old bridge


Traffic Configuration for a few hours that day. As you can see the new bridge carried two lane two-way traffic for a while until the final segement could be tied into the old road. Notice the jog to avoid the old bridge. In 100 years the next bridge will probably be built straight inline with the street.


People waiting for the opening ceremony and to walk the old bridge. It was delayed when one of the guest speakers got stuck in traffic on the bridge…


The Mayor of Hastings speaking


Walking on the old bridge


Another of the old bridge. I was one of the last dozen members of the public ever to be on the bridge as I was just ahead of the cops finally shooing us off.




Steel and Sky


Demolition. A sad site to loose such a beautiful structure

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