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Flooding updates: Stillwater Lift Bridge to reopen Wednesday

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation is reopening the Stillwater Lift Bridge both ways Wednesday at 4 p.m., just over a week after it was closed due to the flooding woes.

MnDOT closed the bridge – which spans the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin – because of rising water levels on the river. As an alternative, commuters were forced to take long detours, including the Interstate 94 bridge to Hudson and the Highway 243 bridge to Osceola to cross the river into Wisconsin.

The reopening of the Stillwater Lift Bridge comes just in time for the Fourth of July holiday, when increased traffic levels are expected. KSTP says the city of Stillwater, MnDOT and the U.S. Coast Guard have elected to keep the bridge in the down position Friday night to accommodate heavier traffic flow that's expected after Independence Day celebrations.

While the Stillwater Lift Bridge is reopening, two other major road closures – Highway 101 in Shakopee and Highway 41 in Chaska – will not reopen before the Fourth of July because of flooding on the Minnesota River, MnDOT says. FOX 9 says both roads are expected to reopen next week.

Flooding damage

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was in its second day of assessing flood damage in the state Wednesday. On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton and his emergency managers pegged the damage to public infrastructure at about $32 million so far, but they expect that number to rise, according to the Associated Press.

One of the latest casualties of the flooding in the state is Grey Cloud Lime Kiln in Cottage Grove, an 1840s landmark that came tumbling down along a channel of the Mississippi River when floodwaters apparently flooded the foundation, the Star Tribune reports.

Elsewhere, flooding has destroyed most of the exhibits in the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato, KARE 11 reports.

Peter Olson, the museum's executive director, told KARE that the museum has learned the $100,000 in damages will not be covered by insurance.

While state and local governments expects to receive federal aid, it's unclear whether homeowners will receive any relief, Detroit Lakes Online reports.

According to the publication, a representative with the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority said Tuesday that her office has received relatively few reports of home damage in the state. However, Dayton expects more reports of flood damage to come in as waters recede.

In the meantime, MHFA Commissioner Mary Tingerthal advises homeowners to check with their insurance agencies even if they don't think their damage will be covered. She also says homeowners should document damage with photos.

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Stillwater Lift Bridge about month from reopening

Drivers will once again be able to cross the Stillwater Lift Bridge in about a month. The bridge, which connects Minnesota and Wisconsin across the St. Croix River, closed Sept. 10 for the rehabilitation project.