There are three things on Jack Bohmert’s bucket list: To live to his 83rd birthday, to spend July 4th at the lake, and to cross the new bridge over the St. Croix.
And thanks to the efforts of his granddaughter and the cooperation of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bohmert can now say he’s crossed the bridge.
The $650 million St. Croix River Crossing isn't due to officially open until Aug. 2, but with Bohmert's health declining as he struggles with congestive heart failure and a blood clot, some strings were pulled to allow him to be one of the first to cross the bridge on Thursday.
Bohmert, of Oak Park Heights, has been waiting four years for the bridge that connects his home town with St. Joseph in Wisconsin (construction began in 2013). His granddaughter Kelli Espiritu shared his experience by streaming his trip across the bridge and a ceremony with construction workers in the middle on Facebook live.
The Pioneer Press notes Bohmert is legally blind, so he was given a running commentary by bridge construction manager Terry Zoller as he was driven across the expanse, and when they made it to Wisconsin he said: "You crossed the bridge before the governor did!"
"Oh man, I can’t believe this! This is beautiful," Bohmert says in the video. "I can’t see too good, but it’s beautiful. This is great!"
Espiritu had been updating her Facebook friends on her attempts to secure his bridge visit for her grandfather, a Navy veteran who was a signalman on a destroyer in the Korean War.
She explains he was told his condition was terminal a few weeks ago, when he was admitted to hospital with urinary problems and was told he had congestive heart failure with "extremely high levels of carbon dioxide in his blood," as well as an "enormous blood clot in his heart."
He was sent home for hospice care and, as she says, "could pass any day."
With the second of his three bucket list wishes checked off the list, the only one that remains is making it to his birthday, which is on July 17.