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Hastings to say goodbye to 'Big Blue,' new bridge opens next week

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The city of Hastings is inviting residents to bid the old Mississippi River bridge farewell at a memorial event on Tuesday evening as the crossing closes to traffic for good.

The Hastings Star Gazette reports people will be allowed to walk the main span of "Big Blue" to commemorate the bridge's final hours following a short memorial led by Mayor Paul Hicks. The ceremony will conclude with a final farewell march.

Attendees are asked to meet on the north lawn of City Hall, 101 E. Fourth St., at 6:30 p.m.

By late Tuesday, all traffic will be diverted onto two lanes of the new four-lane, $120 million U.S. 61 bridge, the Pioneer Press reports.

KARE 11 says on Monday, one lane of southbound traffic will be rerouted from the old bridge to the new bridge. The same will happen for the northbound lane on Tuesday.

The opening of the bridge means an end to a messy construction zone, causing headaches for commuters and business owners over the last three years.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation tells the Pioneer Press that crews will begin dismantling part of the old steel truss-style bridge on Wednesday, but removing the arches and the rest of the bridge won't begin until late August.

KSTP reports it's the end of an era, as the city says so long to a 62-year landmark.

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