State says no to alternative St. Croix bridge plan

State transportation officials have rejected a St. Croix bridge proposal that had been put forth as an alternative by those opposed to building a new a $690 million freeway-style bridge south of Stillwater.

The alternative plan called for a three-lane bridge very close to the existing Stillwater Lift Bridge, which is aging and causes great congestion in downtown Stillwater.

The freeway bridge still needs approval from Congress but is supported by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Gov. Mark Dayton and much of the Washington contingents from Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Environmentalists and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, though, oppose the big-bridge plan.

The Star Tribune says today that a MnDOT review finds the alternative is very close to another plan it had rejected years ago, that it would disrupt historic properties, take too long to get built and isn’t much cheaper than the Bachmann-supported bridge.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by chuck holtman on 08/31/2011 - 03:31 pm.

    “… the existing Stillwater Lift Bridge, which is aging and causes great congestion in downtown Stillwater.”

    Close the lift bridge to motorized traffic. That will address congestion in downtown Stillwater and ensure no tragedy from the aged condition of the bridge. Now that the problems are addressed, what is the justification for a $700M duplicative crossing to rural Wisconsin?

  2. Submitted by Bob Weyandt on 08/31/2011 - 03:34 pm.

    Why do we need this “Bridge from Nowhere” at all? Close the current bridge to vehicular traffic and let people use existing routes to/from Wisconsin. That eliminates the backups in Stillwater making it more accessible for metro visitors and it saves the state enough to finance much more needed highway improvements (e.g.- adding a 3rd lane in each direction on 494 through Plymouth).

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/31/2011 - 04:16 pm.

    Simple solutions are rarely good solutions, in my experience. Simply closing the current bridge seems to follow the pattern.

    Even if we ignore the choices made and money spent in anticipation of the construction of a new bridge, we can’t ignore the fact that the existing bridge has served a need for decades. That need hasn’t disappeared; it has grown, based largely on the expansion of the Twin Cities urban area into Western Wisconsin. That’s reality. Simply dumping the current Stillwater traffic onto other roads and bridges, assuming that they can handle the current traffic, is not going to address the needs of the future.

    As for the impact on the St. Croix: Bah! Anyone who feels it will damage the view between Stillwater and I-94 hasn’t been on the St. Croix lately.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/31/2011 - 07:45 pm.

    Hmmmmm,
    Following the logic of some posters the answer is simple, Close all bridges!
    A. Eliminates all bridge congestion problems
    B. Leaves lots of money for road repair

    We got ourselves a perfect T-Party decision here!

  5. Submitted by chuck holtman on 08/31/2011 - 08:30 pm.

    James (#3) – I’ve had the experience that simple solutions often are good solutions. So while your maxim otherwise may fit your experience, it doesn’t aspire to a rule. To the substance, the cited issues are Stillwater congestion and a structurally unsound bridge. My simple solution solves those problems fairly elegantly. What to do about the expectations of folks used to crossing the river at that point is a wholly separate question. Should Minnesota taxpayers spend close to a billion dollars to avoid disappointing those folks? Views can differ, I suppose. PS Impact on the view is low on my list of concerns. Higher are a billion dollars diverted from real needs and investments, the raw enironmental damage of wresting the materials from the earth to build the bridge, and the unsustainable and obsolete autocentric settlement pattern it perpetuates.

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