St. Croix bridge project inching toward actual construction

A month-long public comment period has begun on the plan to replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge with a new four-lane span over the St. Croix River, perhaps marking the beginning of the end of a process that has spanned more than two decades.
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The plan to replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge with a new span over the St. Croix River has been 20 years in the making. But it may be nearing the point where workers actually start building the $626 million bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Before work starts, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has to finish its permit application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A final piece of that effort is a monthlong public comment period that began Tuesday, KSTP reports.

Here's the application. Here's a MnDOT project description.

KSTP's report:

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MnDOT: Construction on new St. Croix River bridge to begin next spring

MnDOT officials tell MPR that foundation work on the new bridge crossing the St. Croix River downstream from Stillwater will begin next spring, rather than in 2014. The proposed four-lane bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin will replace the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge. The entire project is estimated to cost up to $676 million and take about three years to complete.

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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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President Barack Obama signed the bill authorizing a $690 million bridge near Stillwater. He signed it over the objections of some federal officials who worry exempting the St. Croix from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act sets a bad precedent.

No vote in 2011 for new St. Croix River crossing

Federal environmental approval for the the new St. Croix River bridge will have to wait until next year. Lawmakers adjourned for the holidays without taking any congressional action. Eight U.S. House members from Minnesota and Wisconsin are urging their colleagues to make the project a priority. The $690 million, four-lane bridge would replace the current 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

U.S. House set to vote on St. Croix River bridge

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.