Thirty state legislators — 23 from Minnesota and seven from Wisconsin — have signed a letter to their states’ federal lawmakers opposing a planned $700 million new bridge near Stillwater that will connect the two states.
Congress is considering approval of funding for the bridge, which would replace the Stillwater lift bridge that often causes congestion in downtown Stillwater. Environmental concerns had earlier stopped plans for the new bridge, but the current congressional action would bypass those concerns.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who represents the Stillwater area and is running for president, has been the big bridge proponent in Congress. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has supported it, too.
There was a report in the Strib over the weekend that the federal funding in the project might require an $8 million earmark, which could cause problems for Bachmann, who has campaigned against earmarks.
But today, Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced that she’d secured an offset for the money by rescinding funds from the Interior Franchise Fund, which is used by the Department of Interior to cover the costs of centralizing such administrative services as acquisitions, consulting and performance management.
The 30 legislators also say that funding the new bridge would sap resources from the two states that could be better used elsewhere. Says their letter:
Much more fiscally responsible alternative designs exist, and those savings could be invested in the many road and bridge safety improvement projects languishing all across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Furthermore, the alternative plan significantly reduces noise and air pollution and protects the environmental and recreational integrity of the Lower St. Croix River.
And it concludes:
We urge you to reject the wasteful and ill-conceived H.R. 850, and work with the communities and leaders of Minnesota and Wisconsin to help build the bridge that is actually needed, and free necessary resources to help address our respective states’ serious and growing infrastructure safety needs.
Signing the letter were:
- Rep. Frank Hornstein, Minneapolis,
- Rep. Brett Hulsey, Madison, Wis.
- Sen. D. Scott Dibble, Minneapolis
- Rep. Terese Berceau, Madison, Wis.
- Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, Appleton, Wis.
- Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, Minneapolis
- Rep. Chris Danou, Trempealeau, Wis.
- Sen. Chris Eaton, Brooklyn Center
- Rep. Andrew Falk Murdock
- Rep. Kerry Gauthier, Duluth
- Rep. Mindy Greiling, Roseville
- Rep. Alice Hausman, St. Paul
- Sen. Jeff Hayden, Minneapolis
- Sen. Linda Higgins, Minneapolis
- Rep. Bill Hilty, Finlayson
- Rep. Sheldon Johnson, St. Paul
- Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis
- Rep. Carlos Mariani, St. Paul
- Sen. John Marty, Roseville
- Sen. Mary Jo McGuire, Falcon Heights
- Rep. Nick Milroy, South Range, Wis.
- Rep. Joe Mullery, Minneapolis
- Rep. Erin Murphy, St. Paul
- Rep. Kim Norton, Rochester
- Sen. Sandra L. Pappas, St. Paul
- Rep. Kelda Roys, Madison, Wis.
- Rep. Bev Scalze, Little Canada
- Rep. Linda Slocum, Richfield
- Rep. Chris Taylor, Madison, Wis.
- Rep. Ryan Winkler, Golden Valley.