By Sarah Barchus
North America's longest free-standing arch span bridge was hoisted into place in Hastings on Sunday and is expected to last 100 years, the Star Tribune reported.
The original 1898 spiral bridge connecting the Dakota and Washington counties was replaced in 1952 by a steel truss bridge now succeeded by the 98-foot-tall, 545-foot-wide terracotta twin arches, the Star Tribune reported.
Postponed four times, the move drew people to see the new bride and reminisce about the old. One spectator recalled that school buses had to unload the children before crossing the spiral bridge. Molly Hanson of Hastings remembered that crossing "scarred the bejabbers out of us," the Pioneer Press reported.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said the arch bridge was to replace the safe but functionally obsolete truss bridge, the Pioneer Press reported. Despite the project's delays, it didn't encounter serous budget gaps. Tom Villar, project supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the project is staying close to the allotted $120 million, the Star Tribune reported.
"It is exciting to see the last link being done," Hastings mayor Paul hicks said. "It changes the landscape and view of our city for the next 100 years," the Star Tribune reported.
The Highway 61 bridge will be partially open in 2013; all four lanes will open, complete with pedestrian and bike path, in 2014, the Pioneer Press reported.