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Governors of Minnesota and Wisconsin bridge political divide, send letter to president

They may come from opposing political philosophies, but Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are speaking with one voice on the St. Croix River bridge project. The two governors sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to quickly sign legislation that clears the way for bridge.
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They may come from opposing political philosophies, but Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are speaking with one voice on the St. Croix River bridge project. The two governors sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to quickly sign legislation that clears the way for bridge.

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Gov. Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker held a joint celebration Friday afternoon near the 81-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge. It comes after President Obama signed the bill to exempt the new crossing from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Construction on the $675 million four-lane bridge is likely to begin in early 2014 and take three years to complete.

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The state legislators signed a letter to federal lawmakers opposing a plan to build a $700 million bridge that would replace the current lift bridge. Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Gov. Dayton have spoken out in favor of the bridge. The legislators who signed the letter say the money could be better spent elsewhere.

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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann were among those in Stillwater at the Saturday morning event. After decades of debate, lawmakers voted Thursday to exempt the proposed St. Croix River crossing from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. President Obama is expected to support it. The new four-lane bridge will replace the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge.

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The U.S. Senate unanimously authorized construction of a new St. Croix River bridge near Stillwater. The move comes after 15 years of debate over how to improve traffic flow while also protecting the St. Croix, which is a National Scenic River.

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Supporters of a new bridge near Stillwater have been pushing the concept for decades. They believe they can finally reach their goal if the House votes to exempt part of the St. Croix from its status as a Wild and Scenic River. But the bridge has its critics. They're using financial arguments in hopes of rallying opposition.

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The Senate has already approved a new St. Croix River bridge near Stillwater and now the House has put the issue on its calendar for this week. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says she's confident the bride will be approved. It will need two-thirds of the votes cast to pass.