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House approves St. Croix bridge legislation

The St. Croix River bridge circa 1945

Minnesota Historical Society/John Runk

The St. Croix River bridge circa 1945

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives approved a new bridge over the St. Croix River on Thursday, voting 339-80 to send a bill authorizing the project to President Obama for his signature.

The bill provides an exemption to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which protects the St. Croix River and has prevented the bridge project from going forward for several decades. The $700 million four-lane bridge has bipartisan support from lawmakers in both parties — Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the lead architect of the legislation and steered it through the Senate in January, and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann sponsored the bill in the House.

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Comments (14)


Nice to know that Tammy Baldwin and Ron Kind worked hard to persuade House Democrats to support an exemption to get a new bridge built. Not surprised to learn that Walz and Peterson voted for it also.

I can't wait

To hear McCollum explain herself to her new constituents.

You've spent a lot of time on McCollum

But I have yet to hear one iota of explanation why this bridge is a good thing. Do you care about issues, or are you more interested in hoping for negative blowback for politicians you don't like? She's taken the fiscally conservative stance on this issue and you are still at odds with her. At this point, I'm convinced if McCollum started campaigning for corporate tax cuts you'd still oppose her.

Betty McCollum.."fiscally conservative"??

You owe me a Coke, Jeff.

McCollum isn't upset with the amount being spent, just that it's being spent for the purpose of supporting private transportation (cars).

Why is this a good idea?

Why does it matter? Isn't spending $700M for reasons I've yet to see you justify *not* fiscally conservative? As a fiscal conservative, can you explain why this bridge is necessary, given the existence of the bridge at 94? Can you explain how it's not a moronic subsidy of people dumb and wasteful enough to commute an hour to work?

What does "fiscal conservative" even mean if one supports this? Right now the only definition I can figure out is you can spend as much as you want so long as it's not on public transportation because liberals and poor people use that, and something is always "fiscally conservative" if it is opposed by a liberal legislator you don't like.

If you reply to this, don't talk about Betty McCollum. She doesn't matter. There's no substance there.

WHY is this a good idea? HOW is this consistent with conservative principles?

Reasons why it is a good thing.

McCollum has never visited Stillwater. The rush hour traffic jams are horrendous ..
The old bridge is fracture-critical. Remember the 35W bridge in Mpls?
East west roads leading to the current bridge are four lane roads. The bridge is two lane.
The I94 bridge at Hudson is almost at full capacity now. It can not handle the extra traffic from the current bridge.
This bridge needed to be replaced twenty years ago. It began as a $100. million project and all the fighting over it has brought the costs up. And the costs are split between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
And I could go on and on.

I'm from Stillwater

And I'll say this: I don't feel bad for anyone who feels the need to commute from Wisconsin to the Twin Cities. This is exactly the sort of wasteful behavior we should not be enabling with subsidies. You build a bigger bridge, more yahoos who think it's reasonable to commute that far will do it. More gas, more sprawl, more waste, more infrastructure with too little density to support it. An endless cycle.

I also know the 94 bridge is not at capacity. I go over it all the time. I've never once observed significantly slow traffic on that bridge, or for that matter, anywhere east of Maplewood.

And finally, Stillwater may not enjoy their daily downtown traffic, but I'll bet they'd enjoy it less when they become one of those bypassed ghost-towns, complete with a huge, hulking bridge looming over their lovely river, literally casting a shadow over the town.

If it's really a problem, a more modest bridge will solve it.

The new bridge is not looming over Stillwater - it is downriver

It will be over a treatment plant, two prisons, and Anderson Windows. Not a particularly scenic part of the river......
And why so much angst about the possibility of development in Wisconsin????

st, croix river bridge

She has already explained this numerous times, in terms simple enough for republicans to understand.
It costs way too much and isn't necessary. There has been an alternative plan for a simpler smaller bridge that is perfectly adequate. This "mega-bridge" requires an exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers act which was passed to protect our waters.
McCollum says, “Congress’ passage of this $700 million bridge bill doesn’t diminish its excessive cost, size, negative effect on Highway 36 traffic congestion or its adverse impact on the St. Croix River.”
Why are the republicans and democrats willing to spend twice as much money as is needed? What's the deal?
Klobuchar has become a Blue Dog Democrat. Thank god for Betty McCollum, holding to her principles.
I hope it's vetoed, but it probably will not be.

In reply

It's not that complicated. The reason the new bridge costs so much is that it has to satisfy a host of environmental and recreational concerns that no other bridge to my knowledge ever has had to satisfy. Even the National Park Service was willing to sign off on the bridge in 2005, and Senator Kloubachar made sure in her bill that the NPS's requirements would be met by the new bridge. That Senator Franken and Governor Dayton were also supporters of the bridge doesn't indicate they're all now Blue Dogs but that the bridge really is needed. Kloubachar has stated that President Obama will sign the exemption into law, and I have heard nothing that would indicate it would be vetoed given the large margin that it passed by in the Senate and the House.


Radical environmentalists & their leftist ilk have been dragging this bridge through the courts and through government bureaucracies for 30 years. The original estimate was <$80 million....lawyers & government bureaucracrats don't work cheap.

This bridge is only "needed"

you assume that it will engender urban sprawl into St. Croix County, which it will. There are many solutions to alleviating the traffic congestion in tion on Main St. Stillwater which do not require building a four lane bridge. This is a huge break/giveaway to the land speculators who are all delighted with this. It will increase traffic, driving, wastage of gas, more pollution, promote global warming and blight of the landscape. Goodby "Wild and Scenic River St. Croix."

Stll-waters run deep...

There's got to be a simpler design if a bridge is a necessity... or merely a political plum for fading politicians - without turning Stillwater into another pass-through ghost town.

Does the village still hold membership; status as Booktown USA? Why haven' book dealers been interviewed? Yes sir, books still exist as valuable, and valid, for some...

It was 'almost' the home for main campus, U of Minnesota about a century ago.

If some want to tear the soul out of that area for whatever unjustified reasons at least give it a last bit of respect..know the historic sense of place that may be lost in the process.

Big sister had her first job out of J-School some time ago and I visited summers. Loved the place...and bookstores with their specialties came later.

What a grand place indeed and full of colorful history... always wanted to know about the infamous owner of the the paper and Lowell Inn.

I can only suggest, it's worth noting the life of that rare gem of a village before it's strangled by gas fumes and cheap motels and casinos probably...

We're going to lose something special here . Maybe it's time to add a sidebar story or honor those sepia toned pages that represent it's past, eh?

people dumb and wasteful enough and more yahoos

To Mr. Jeff Klein,
Thank you for labeling people who go to work each day to support their families, as dumb and as yahoos. When you said these things, it caused me to ignore everything else you said, whether I agreed with them or not. Apparently, you are incapable of understanding perspectives other than your own. In the future, please do not judge people you do not know or understand.
I am happy a bridge is getting built. Had we done this 10-15 years ago when the economy was healthier, it would have been thought of as fiscally conservative (the cost was much less also). As it is, the funds needed are already allocated for the project, from both MN and WI with some Federal money added. Let me emphasize the word project, this is more than just a bridge. There will be brand new roads and infrastructure. All of which, cost money. I am not a proponent of urban sprawl, which this will help along. Look at the Hwy 36 corridor through Oak Park Heights with all the big box stores inviting more sprawl. Is it only Minnesotans who shop there? The bridge will make it easier for Wisconsin people to spend more money, and use less gas getting there. Less gas? More money spent? Are those fiscally good things?