A Column of Personal Opinion by State Senator Sheila Harsdorf
It is with great excitement and anticipation we await the opening of the new St. Croix Crossing! This project that actually took an act of Congress, has been a long time coming. Discussions to replace the aging Stillwater Bridge that was built in 1931, first began in the 1970’s.
[emember_protected] The project which involved local, state and federal elected officials and agencies along with stakeholders from both states, faced unique challenges given its location in a national scenic riverway. The stakeholder’s recommendation of an extradosed bridge structure was to reduce the visual and environmental impact of the much needed bridge crossing.
The 5100 foot, nearly mile-long bridge which connects Oak Park Heights, Minnesota and Houlton, Wisconsin is being built at a cost of $377 million. The total project cost is estimated at over $640 million which includes extensive approach work in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The process undertaken by both states was no small feat. Through continual reports provided by agency staff and a live webcam, observers have been able to follow each step of the process from carefully managing and protecting the historic natural area of the St. Croix Riverway to how barges maneuvered to place important structural components, and the special construction technic of Pier 13 as the only pier located on the Wisconsin bluff.
With the opening of the St. Croix Crossing, the current historic Stillwater Lift Bridge will be converted into a bicycle-pedestrian crossing. The repurposed lift bridge will link the existing local trails from Stillwater across the St. Croix River and south along the river bluffs in Wisconsin before crossing back into Minnesota over the new bridge and returning to Stillwater. The 4.7 mile Loop Trail will provide trail users with stunning views as well as historical documentation.
The long-awaited new crossing will be key to ensuring a safe and efficient means of travel for visitors, commuters and area residents, as well as the delivery of emergency services. I applaud the collaboration between the multiple agencies in both states along with local, state, and federal elected officials. It is rewarding to see the hard work of so many come to fruition and I am pleased to have been a part of this process.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the crossing will be held on August 2 at 10:00. [/emember_protected]