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Minnesota lawmakers lobby colleagues ahead of St. Croix bridge vote

Michele Bachmann
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Michele Bachmann: "It really is like Moses parting the waters to get this done."

“I stress to everybody, Stillwater needs to have this bridge replaced, but we find ourselves in a circumstance where the only replacement option is $700 million and it only is going to be serving 18,000 cars,” she said. “It sets a terrible precedent by writing into law that the biggest exemption is the best exemption for the river.”

She’s setting expectations low for the vote on Thursday, acknowledging that Republican leadership wouldn’t have brought the bill to the floor unless they were confident they could get the votes to pass it.

Still, “my job is to do oversight, my job is to speak up and speak out when I think something could be done in a more cost-effective and better way, and I’m doing my job,” McCollum said.

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Comments (10)

McCollum's changing tune

She says she's now in favor of an exemption to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, to better build a not much cheaper, but less functional bridge that would have a greater impact on the St. Croix River's environment and scenery. It makes no sense at all to reject a bridge proposal that's ready to go and has already been judged to be the best solution and go back to square one after decades of endless debate already.

Tom, I think we're repeating the colloquy

But we don't need to go back to "square one." We need to close the lift bridge to motorized traffic. All done. Now we have $1B to spend on higher priority needs than a shorter river crossing for a few folks in Pierce and Polk Counties.

I do agree with you about Rep McCollum. It is unprincipled to support a W&SR exemption and I don't know why she and the other opponents are conceding a "slightly smaller" bridge. We don't need another bridge, period.

uh..

It's because the 4th District now includes Stillwater.

Bacchman a TRUE Conservative; not

Lets review; nearly 3/4 of a billion tax dollars to build a bridge for 18,000 uses per day. This is only 10 or 12 miles up stream from the I94 bridge. Does that make real sense?

How much did the new I35W bridge cost and how many users per day does it serve in comparison?

And here she was running all over the nation ignoring here constituents, exclaiming how conservative she was, yet wanting to bring home the pork to her district in hopes of re-election.

Michelle can you say hypocrite?

3 times the cost of the 35W replacement

That's what Betty's web site says this indulgence for a very small population of rather privileged people will total.

I'm ashamed of the Democrats (especially Kobuchar and Franken) who've supported this wasteful and behemoth project. There comes a time when "eveyone's on board" is simply Groupthink. The reason it's taken so long toget this far is because it's been riddled with grandiose plans and careless projections. If it's been 60 years, then Stillwater has managed to chug along and can wait a bit longer for a solid plan.

Bear in mind that engineers love to build things. Ask an engineer if something should/could be built and he or she will say, "You betcha and the bigger the better!" The influence of Mn/DOT and Wis/Dot should be viewed as biased and narrow. They love gettinmg federal funds for any project and never consider that federal funds are OUR money which could be spent on serious, unsexy, critical needs.

Dayton says if this is delayed it will mean a "death knell." If so, then I guess we don't really need it.

(My name contains an apostrophe; I am not swearing.)

uh...

See, the problem, Gail, is that this isn't consistent with anything Betty's done in the past. She's never hesitated about spending tons o' your money on anything. She's always voted with the labor unions when hundreds of jobs are involved.

She has no credibility to be taking this position and therefore this doesn't pass the smell test.

Seriously

Proposing to have no bridge at all is silly, given the amount of traffic that exists currently at the crossing and the growth that will continue to occur in the metro area. The reason it's so expensive is because every effort has been made to come up with a bridge that would exist in harmony with the St. Croix River while serving both states and the MnDoT bridge does that, and does it better than any of the other alternatives that were studied, including the "sensible" bridge being bandied about.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen El Tinklenberg representing the 6th and making the case for a new bridge, but I'm not letting my personal feelings about Bachmann affect my judgment about the bridge.

No bridge?

I didn't know anyone was proposing no bridge. The problem has to be fixed - responsibly and with attention to all our transportation needs .

But the prospect of a megalopolis fed by a huge bridge is not appealing. Furthermore, building a bridge that allows more and more people to work in MN and live in WI doesn't seem to serve our state. I'm very concerned about the effects on Hwy. 36 and other communities west of Stillwater.

The Wild and Scenic River Act of 1968 should not be treated lightly. McCollum's wobbling on this issue needs clarification. The whole country should be concerned about setting such a precedent.

She didn't sound in today's floor debate as though she now

favored an exemption from the Wild and Scenic River requirements.

In this case, McCollum and Ellison are right. The governors, senators and many members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin delegations are wrong. They are looking only at the number of jobs for this project rather than the fact that the smaller bridge would be adequate, would protect the river, and would free up several hundred million dollars for repair or replacement of the many bridges and roads needing maintenance all around the state. As many or more good jobs would be created.

The Big Bridge bill should have been killed in the Senate.

Gail, I'm proposing no bridge.

The problems are (a) the lift bridge is unsafe; (b) backups to go over the lift bridge cause congestion in downtown Stillwater. Solution: Close the lift bridge to motorized traffic. Both problems solved. The question of a new replacement bridge then needs to be addressed on its own merits: spend $1B to save some folks in Wisconsin 15 minutes on their river crossing, or use it to address hundreds of unsafe bridges throughout Minnesota. The bridge originally was proposed (and driven by MnDOT and developers) for the specific purpose of fostering expansion of the Twin Cities region into western Wisconsin. In the '90's, the rationale to oppose the bridge was specifically to prevent this expansion, which would have been very bad economically, socially and environmentally for the metropolitan area. (Had the bridge in fact been built back then, I expect that the Wisconsin river counties now would be filled with half-completed, abandoned subdivisions.) Now that growth has hit a wall, the rationale to oppose the bridge is that it is a huge investment for a very parochial (and non-Minnesotan), limited interest. And, as a prophylactic against sprawl if the housing boom ever should reoccur.