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Senate committee hears St. Croix bridge bill

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It should be mentioned that the U.S. Park Service in 2005 *approved* a four-lane bridge in the same corridor as the one it rejected in 1996. But when a federal judge asked the Park Service why they'd changed their mind, the Park Service wasn't able to show that they weren't acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner. So the reason why Congress now needs to act on a new bridge is because the Park Service has clearly failed to live up to the responsibilities it was given under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

As for the so-called "Sensible Stillwater" bridge proposal, that is nothing more than a rehash of identical proposals that have already been reviewed and found wanting thanks to the lack of land along the river bluff south of downtown Stillwater. The "sensible" bridge would actually have more of a negative impact on the river and its banks than the bridge that Senators Kloubachar, Franken, Kohl and Johnson want built.

Tom, listen to this fact: The lower and slower bridge plan has never been studied before. MNDOT didn't allow it to be considered by the stakeholders (the sham community process Haryski refers to). The proponents of the mega bridge are trying to link the sensible bridge to Option E which was a freeway style bridge low in the valley that just didn't work and was environmentally destrucitve. That misinformation has worked really well for mega bridge propoganda. The truth is that the community was never given any other choice and the sensible bridge has been offered up privately by former stakeholder members. The real tragedy is this: Republicans in congress are siezing this debate as reason to diminish the Wild and Scenic Rivers ACt, perhaps our most effective environmental legislation since the cration of the EPA. How sad is that, the birthplace of the act, the St. Croix, is now sowing the seeds of its destruction. Save the money, save the WSRA, save the future of STillwater businesses and build a more sensible bridge that encourages commerce in Minnesota, not Wisconsin. Reject the mega bridge. The fact is that the mega bridge never conformed to the WSRA and the Park Service won't approve it until it does. MNDOT exhibited extreme hubris in designing a span that required the ACt to be ignored. The reason this bridge has never been built is because it was poorly conceived, not because of any organized resistance. The mega bridge is illegal and cannot proceed until the WSRA is weakened or permanently amended. Shameful.

Mr. Pappas, the "sensible" bridge proposal follows the same corridor as the Option E proposal, which also was not a full freeway style bridge. I'm a bit leery of how the "sensible" bridge sketch depicts what looks to be a figure eight intersection on the Minnesota side - it looks like someone thinks a mega-roundabout would be a good idea right in front of the River Oasis Cafe. The lack of space and the steepness of the river bluff is a real problem that the "sensible" bridge proposal still doesn't address.