News, Public Notices
Council briefed on Hwy. 61 project set for 2026

Expects disruptions on Hastings bridge in August, as MnDOT works on deck

By John McLoone

The Hastings City Council was briefed at its July 5 meeting on Minnesota Department of Transportation plans for reconstruction of Hwy. 61, a project planned for 2026.

Construction will take place from 4th Street to 36th Street.

MnDOT has undertaken a lot of planning for the project already and received input from the community and local businesses. MnDOT South Area Manager Ryan Wilson told councilmembers that people who have provided input have said they’d like better traffic flow on the highway, better sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, improved bike options, better onstreet parking, crash prevention and aesthetics like plantings along the city’s major thoroughfare.

“When we think about emerging things, we think about things that are important to folks,” he said.

Major projects also have a goal of reducing left turns, where most accidents can occur.

“Left turns require the most calculations as a driver,” he said.

MnDOT is ready to move into the phase of putting together further evaluation of what the project would entail.

“We’re wrapping up part one, examination of existing conditions. “We’re doing evaluation now.”

A study report on DOT findings will be available next spring.

He said that MnDOT has in recent years rebuilt similar corridors, such as Hwy. 169 in St. Peter, the “transitional urban corridor,” as he termed it, of Hwy. 51 near Hamline University, Hwy. 3/ Roberts St. in St. Paul and Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

See HWY. 61 UPDATE, Page 6 HWY. 61 UPDATE

___________

“We do have some corridors that are similar,” he said.

Wilson said that some “finishing touches” will be put on Hwy. 316 that was rebuilt in Hastings by MnDOT last year. “We have some cleanup work happening this fall and some tweaks we’re making at 31st and Tuttle,” he said.

He also gave the council a heads _ up that there will be some work done on the Hastings bridge in August.

“We’ll be doing preventive work on the bridge deck,” he said.

For a two _ week period, traffic will be down to one lane for both directions.

“It’ll be a great project to get done,” he said. “There’s no question it’s going to be a traffic disruption.”

Councilmembers brought up concerns, such as traffic being diverted into neighborhoods off of Hwy. 61. Lisa Leifeld asked that MnDOT keep in mind that resident con _ cern.

“I would want you people keeping in the back of your minds people turning off into neighborhoods,” she said.

“It’s not anybody’s objective to push people to another road,” Wilson said, though it may make sense for bike travel to be off the main road and on parallel streets.

Mark Vaughan asked how MnDOT is getting feedback from the large number of commuters who drive.

“We try to get as many folks engaged as we can,” said Wilson.

“We look forward to our updates in the future,” said Mayor Mary Fasbender.

Kaitlin Neuman was recently promoted to Full-time Firefighter/ Paramedic for the Hastings Fire Department. Kaitlin previously served as a paid, on-call firefighter/EMT for the department. Thank you for your service to the community, Kaitlin!

Photo courtesy of City of Hastings

July 20, 2022