Warning: Ice near bridge work on St. Croix River will be 'dangerous' this winter

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Ice up and down the St. Croix River near the under-construction bridge will be dangerous this winter, and officials ware warning outdoors enthusiasts to use "extreme caution" in the area.

MnDOT put out a warning Tuesday, saying throughout the winter of 2015-16, crews plan to routinely break ice within that construction zone – which goes as far south as the overhead power lines coming from the Xcel Energy Allen S. King Power Plant near Bayport.

So from Stillwater to Bayport, MnDOT says snowmobilers and other outdoor recreationalists should be very careful when on the river, and stay away from the construction zone.

There are thin ice warnings on area public boat launches, and there will be more on the river once the ice thickens, MnDOT says.

Why are they breaking ice?

The reason for the ice breaking: Crews need to do work on piers 10 and 11, which are in the middle of the river.

They need to access those spots by boat – so need the waterway open as much as possible.

The bridge will connect Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, with St. Joseph, Wisconsin, according to MnDOT. The objectives are to provide a safer and more reliable crossing while improving traffic flow and congestion in the St. Croix Valley.

It was originally supposed to be done in 2016, but that got pushed back to the next year.

“This is a very complex engineering project,” MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said in the news release. “This is only the second major bridge of its type built in the U.S., and the methods of construction are taking longer than anticipated.”

The St. Croix Crossing project, once it’s complete, will move vehicle traffic off of the existing Stillwater Lift Bridge – that will then become part of a 4.7-mile pedestrian and bike pathway called The Loop Trail.

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