While St. Paul transit boosters were crowing about receiving a $35 million federal grant this week for renovation of the Union Depot, supporters of a new bridge over the St. Croix River near Stillwater felt passed over.
They’d applied for $300 million from the transportation stimulus program — TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program — but didn’t make the cut. About $1.5 billion was doled out to 50 other projects.
Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki told the Stillwater Gazette: “It’s disappointing, but it’s kind of par for the course. This has been 55 years of delays. Finally when there’s a program in place that would be perfect for our city, plus it would create jobs, they don’t give us the grant.”
Oak Park Heights Mayor David Beaudet hadn’t been optimistic: “The requirements for the grant and the river bridge crossing were not a good match. It was no surprise.”
The proposed bridge would cross the river south of downtown Stillwater, and the existing lift bridge would be used for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. But planning for the $670 million project has been delayed over environmental concerns.
The paper said:
Meanwhile, the river crossing is also waiting on a decision from a U.S. District Court judge about a lawsuit brought against the project by the Sierra Club. The environmental advocacy group contends that the project violates the spirit of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which protects the St. Croix from projects “that would have a direct and adverse effect” on its “outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, and geologic values.” A decision had been expected late last year.