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Now that the work is almost finished, Hicks said, Hastings can look forward to Hwy. 61 bringing new business instead of complaints. The travel time from Minneapolis and St. Paul will be shorter, and metro-area residents who might have visited the historic river town won’t be discouraged by traffic backups.
“It opens the door for more economic activity, economic development,” he said.
However it shapes the future of Hastings, the new landmark has already become part of the town’s daily rituals, from Youngren’s Facebook page to the baker who pauses at Dodge-Agen’s window to check the view after making his deliveries. She does the same each morning when she gets to work, and laughs to think what she’ll do as construction ends.
“I grab my cup of coffee, I stand by my windows, and watch. When it’s done,” she said, “that part of my day is done.”
Graison Hensley Chapman is a Northfield freelance writer.