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Hastings Bridge

Spanning the Mississippi River and glowing thanks to Plexineon linear LED fixtures, the Hastings Bridge is longest free-standing tied-arch bridge in North America.

Plexineon outlines the shape of the bridge, while illuminating the cables connecting the arch to the deck

Lighting an Award-winning Bridge
Plexineon Illuminates a Historic River Town’s Newest Icon

Founded in 1857 and located at the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers, the town of Hastings, Minnesota, takes pride in its rich, historical past — and its bridges.

From 1895 to 1951, a unique Spiral Bridge spanned the Mississippi and looped through Hastings’ small downtown. That structure was replaced in 1951 by the Hastings High Bridge, a continuous steel through truss structure that served as the town’s icon for the next 50-plus years. But after the 2007 collapse of the I-35 bridge 30 miles upstream in St. Paul, the Minnesota Legislature passed funding to accelerate repair and/or replacement of fracture critical bridges. The Hastings High Bridge was advanced from a construction date of 2015 to a construction date of 2010.

The result is a new signature bridge — a $120 million structure designed by Parsons Transportation, with bridge architecture by Touchstone Architecture and Consulting. The longest free-standing tied-arch bridge in North America, it has a main span composed of arches, girders, beams, stringers, and roadway comprising four lanes of traffic plus a mixed-use pedestrian and bike path. At night, it is illuminated by iLight Plexineon White 1X fixtures that are in step with the quiet beauty of the environment and the soul of a community with small-town charm.

The Design Challenge

That desire to complement, not detract from, the natural setting was expressed by community stakeholders during the design approval process.

“Residents have a strong emotional connection to the bridge,” says Ken Douglas, Principal and Founder, Illumination Arts LLC. “When it came to the lighting, they wanted to highlight the bridge, but without a lot of glitz and glamour.”

“Plexineon creates a line of light that’s pleasing to look at from multiple viewpoints.” – Elizabeth Johnson, Senior Designer, Illumination Arts LLC
The firm had used Plexineon before, but never for a bridge project. “This was a great opportunity to use the product,” Douglas says.

Working in close collaboration with Touchstone, the Illumination Arts team proposed tracing the bridge’s arches with Plexineon — a way to subtly accentuate the shape of the bridge against the night sky, while creating a soft reflection in the river. The lighting also illuminates the thin cables that connect the arches to the deck.

The Plexineon Advantage

After winning community approval of the design, the firm worked with iLight Technologies to ensure smooth execution. Elizabeth Johnson, Senior Designer at Illumination Arts, says the entire process was “well coordinated, especially on the shop drawings. I think the planning and details really paid off.”

A Minnesota native, Johnson made a point to see the finished result herself when she returned home weeks after the bridge opened in 2013.

“I was really pleased with how the installation detail looked up close from the pedestrian path,” she says. “Plexineon creates a line of light that’s pleasing to look at from multiple viewpoints — whether you’re walking over the bridge or seeing it from the riverbank.”

The new bridge has already become a new source of civic pride in Hastings. It also has quickly garnered awards, including being named the 2014 Midwest Best Project of the Year in the Highways/Bridges category by Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine.

Plexineon’s light is pleasing from multiple viewpoints and subtly complements the surrounding natural setting

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