WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has signed a bill authorizing the construction of a new bridge over the St. Croix River, ending a project that supporters say is decades over-due.
Obama signed the bill into law on Wednesday, according to the White House. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the chief author of the legislation, called the conclusion of the process a “victory for the residents and businesses along the St. Croix River Valley.”
“This effort is an example of what can get done when people put politics aside and do what is best for our state,” she said in a statement. “I appreciate the work of my colleagues in the House and Senate as well as Gov. Mark Dayton who helped get this project over the finish line.”
The bill passed Congress with bipartisan support, first in the Senate, which approved it unanimously in January, and then in the House, which voted 339-80 to send the bill to the president on March 1. Klobuchar was the author of the bill Obama eventually signed; Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann had introduced the House version of the bill.
Though it had broad bipartisan support in Congress as a whole, it was a Minnesota Democrat who led the charge against the bill: Rep. Betty McCollum, whose newly redrawn district will include the St. Croix Bridge project, says the $690 million four-lane bridge was too large and too expensive. She backed a smaller project instead.
Obama administration officials had insisted the competing factions of lawmakers work together on a compromise before trying to move the bill through Congress, but a March 15 deadline from Dayton sped up the bill’s final passage.
Minnesota officials have been preparing for the bridge’s construction since Congress acted earlier this month. Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation named Jon Chiglo the project manager. Construction will begin in 2014.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.