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Traffic Begins Wednesday On New St. Croix Crossing Bridge

$650M Bridge Connects Oak Park Heights, Minnesota And St. Joseph, Wisconsin

Scott Walker
Rich Kremer/WPR

It took 30 years, an act of Congress and a president’s signature, but on Wednesday night a $650 million bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin will open to the public.

The ribbon has been cut on the new four-lane link St. Croix Crossing bridge connecting St. Joseph, Wisconsin and Oak Park Heights, Minnesota.

At 220 feet tall the bridge stands out above the federally protected St. Croix River and replaces a lift bridge that has carried traffic across the St. Croix River to Wisconsin for nearly 90 years.

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Wisconsin state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, said it took an army of supporters and an act of Congress to get the bridge built.

“It really goes to show the collaboration between our two states, every level of government — local state and federal — truly a bipartisan effort. Recognizing the importance that this bridge will provide in linking our two states.”

Construction was only allowed to begin after Congress changed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to create an exemption for the bridge. The Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club calls it a dangerous precedent.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony Democratic Congressman Ron Kind said the bridge will make things happen for rural cities and towns nearby.

“We’re anticipating a large boom throughout western Wisconsin from economic and residential activity because of this bridge,” Kind said.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge, located two miles north, is scheduled to close Wednesday evening.

Stillwater residents and businesses say the lift bridge, which saw about 18,000 vehicles a day, caused traffic and noise issues in the downtown area. They say they hope its closure will encourage more people to go downtown.

Lift operators will continue to raise the old bridge in order to allow boats to pass.

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