If shutdown comes, lift bridge may rise to the occasion

Soon after Republicans seized on the Stillwater Lift Bridge as the poster child for gettng Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session and at least settle some of the budget matters, it looks like the bridge might not be a factor, after all.

This morning, GOP legislative leaders scheduled a press conference on the bridge for today, and soon state officials said the bridge might be considered essential, says the Pioneer Press.

Gov. Dayton’s initial plan for a shutdown said that bridge employees would be laid off and that the bridge would be kept in the raised position, allowing boats to pass underneath but motor vehicles would have lengthy detours to cross the St. Croix.

The Pioneer story says:

MnDOT is including operation of the lift bridge as a core critical function in its contingency planning efforts, pending a final court ruling.

After consulting with public safety officials and healthcare providers over the past several days, MnDOT officials have determined that the lift bridge is a “core service critical to maintaining life and health safety,” said Kevin Gutknecht, a spokesman for MnDOT.

“We looked pretty hard at that, and we understand the issues so it seemed to like a good thing to do,” Gutknecht said. The lift bridge will remain open primarily to allow ambulance traffic to continue between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

It notes that the Republican press conference was scheduled before the MnDOT announcement.

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