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New Hastings bridge to open; 'Memorial' planned for 'Big Blue'

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A 3-year-old project to construct a new Highway 61 bridge over the Mississippi River in Hastings, Minn., officially ends Tuesday when crews reroute traffic from the city's aging "Big Blue" bridge to the new red-hued span.

The new four-lane $120 million 1,938-foot bridge was built right next to the old one. Officials have said the new bridge could last a century and is Minnesota’s first free-standing, above-deck arch bridge.

Crews will start tearing Big Blue down as early as Wednesday. About 33,000 vehicles pass over the span each day, the Star Tribune reported.

More than two years of construction tie-ups and messy commutes have left few are feeling nostalgic for Big Blue, the Star Tribune reports.

The city plans a "memorial" ceremony to say goodbye to the old bridge from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Residents, who will be allowed to walk the old span one last time, are encouraged to begin gathering on the north lawn at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. The ceremony is expected to include dramatic flourishes: a bagpiper and hearse.

Here's a cool time-lapse video that shows how the new terracotta-colored span – built off-site – was moved from ground to barge, then floated down the river and lifted into place:

City leaders have called it an end of an era, KSTP reported:

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