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Author Topic: Stillwater Bridge  (Read 81543 times)

on_wisconsin

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Stillwater Bridge
« on: August 21, 2011, 11:31:32 PM »

Quote
MnDOT ready to build new Stillwater bridge if Congress acts


By Mary Divine
mdivine@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 08/13/2011 08:59:42 PM CDT


If Congress gives the green light this fall, Minnesota Department of Transportation crews will begin work immediately on a new four-lane St. Croix River bridge south of Stillwater.

MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel said that his agency is closely watching events in Washington and that a Sept. 30 deadline set by the agency for federal authorization for the project could be extended.

"It seems like they might be getting closer to a resolution, and we don't want to be a barrier to that by any means," he said. "I think we're probably the closest here we've ever been. As soon as we get the word, we're ready to go."

The $690 million project requires a federal exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., have both introduced legislation that would pave the way for the bridge.

Klobuchar's bill also contains measures to offset the effects of a new bridge, including eliminating existing man-made structures, protecting the river bluff, restoring parkland and ensuring public boat access.

"It sure does feel like we're getting close when you look at the support that we have in Congress," Sorel said. "We're going to continue to work with them. We're trying to keep apprised of what they're doing and the timeline they need, and try to see how that will fit from an engineering perspective on how we build the project."

Klobuchar, whose bill got a hearing last month before the national parks subcommittee
of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said last week that she is working with Bachmann, Gov. Mark Dayton's office and MnDOT to "move this project forward as quickly as possible."

She said last month that the state government shutdown and the national debt-ceiling debate created some unexpected delays.

"The bridge has nothing to do with either of these issues, but it's just harder to get things through the legislative body," Klobuchar said.

Bachmann is hopeful that her bill will receive a markup and pass on to the House floor as soon as the August recess is over, said Becky Rogness, a spokeswoman for the congresswoman.

DRAWING UP DEADLINES

Dayton warned Bachmann in May that money for the bridge would be diverted to other state transportation projects if Congress didn't approve the plan by Sept. 30. A spokesman for Dayton's office last week referred calls regarding the deadline to MnDOT's Sorel.

"I think it's fair that the Sept. 30 timeline was out there - that's something we got to from a scheduling perspective and from an engineering perspective," Sorel said. "But we know that they seem to be getting closer and closer, and we need to be flexible with what they're doing as well."

In his May 3 letter to Bachmann, Dayton wrote that "decision deadlines were looming which the Minnesota Department of Transportation must meet in order not to lose available federal funds. The funding decisions about this project must be made by September 2011 or MnDOT will be unable to expend those funds within the required time period."

According to MnDOT officials, $203 million in state highway funds and $160 million in federal funding are at risk.

If the push for federal legislation is not successful, Sorel said, the money would be used for other projects that have yet to be determined. For now, he said, "We've been moving forward as if (the bridge) was going to be built."

Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki said he expects Congress will approve the project within a few months.

"Anytime you have (Sen.) Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Michele Bachmann working on an issue together, I'm confident that we'll clear all the hurdles," he said.

AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN

The new bridge, first proposed decades ago, would replace the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge as the main Minnesota-Wisconsin crossing north of Interstate 94 and divert thousands of daily commuters from Stillwater's historic downtown, routing them instead to Minnesota 36 through Oak Park Heights. Supporters say a new bridge is needed to address traffic congestion in downtown Stillwater and accommodate growth in western Wisconsin.

Plans for the bridge came to an abrupt halt last fall after the National Park Service reversed an opinion it issued five years earlier and ruled that the bridge would conflict with the U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The St. Croix River was one of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers designated by Congress in 1968; the Lower St. Croix was added in 1972 through the efforts of the late Wisconsin Gov. and Sen. Gaylord Nelson and former Minnesota Sen. and Vice President Walter Mondale.

A group called the Sensible Stillwater Bridge Partnership supports construction of a lower, narrower, three-lane bridge that would cross the river diagonally from near the Oasis Cafe, just south of downtown Stillwater, to where the Stillwater Lift Bridge hits the bluff on the Wisconsin side of the river. The center lane of the three lanes would vary in direction depending on the time of day.

"We've put on the table what we think is a good-faith alternative that costs less than half of the proposed megabridge," said Peter Gove, a spokesman for the group.

Gove said he hopes MnDOT will ask the Park Service to review their proposal. "If this proposal were to be seriously considered, the need for this federal legislation may go away," he said.

But Bill Berndt, a consultant for the St. Croix River Coalition, a group formed to lobby for the four-lane bridge, said federal legislation is the only solution.

"Everybody is talking. Everybody is working hard," Berndt said. "The first obstacle to getting any kind of legislative action is, 'Do we have a team that is working well together and are they focused on the goal?' and that is absolutely the case - both in Washington and in Minnesota and Wisconsin."

The coalition is confident that Dayton's office and MnDOT officials "understand the timeline in Washington and understand that this project has great momentum," Berndt said. "Our goal is to move as quickly as possible. We've done our due diligence, now is the time for action."
http://www.twincities.com/washington/ci_18671357
Yes, you read that right its going to take an act of the US Congress to get the damn thing built. (stupid serria club et al) :pan:
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 12:03:37 AM by on_wisconsin »
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on_wisconsin

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 02:21:29 AM »

« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 02:27:13 AM by on_wisconsin »
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froggie

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2011, 10:10:25 AM »

Quote
Yes, you read that right its going to take an act of the US Congress to get the damn thing built. (stupid serria club et al)

Not the Sierra Club per se.  Moreso the National Park Service saying no.
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2011, 03:52:29 PM »

I think the real deadline moving forward with a new Stillwater bridge is the rapidly deteriorating lift bridge in place now.  I would not be shocked at all if that old beast needed to be closed before a replacement is finished, even if they started tomorrow.

The impact of a new bridge on the St. Croix as a Wild and Scenic River is negligible compared to the enormous impact of urban sprawl that will follow this bridge once commuters can bypass the bottleneck of downtown Stillwater.  The bridge will connect to a WI 64 freeway on the Wisconsin side and New Richmond will find that it has become a suburb, for better or worse.  The wild and scenic nature of the St. Croix River from about Stillwater south is already degraded by existing development.  The proposed bridge is aesthetically pleasing and would certainly distract from the big ol' power plant looms on the Minnesota side at this point along the river.
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Coelacanth

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2011, 05:50:58 PM »

The impact of a new bridge on the St. Croix as a Wild and Scenic River is negligible compared to the enormous impact of urban sprawl that will follow this bridge once commuters can bypass the bottleneck of downtown Stillwater.  The bridge will connect to a WI 64 freeway on the Wisconsin side and New Richmond will find that it has become a suburb, for better or worse. 

New Richmond is already a suburb.

This bridge just needs to get built. As you point out, the existing bridge is on its last legs. Build the new one, put a truck ban on the old one. Just get on with it already.
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on_wisconsin

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2011, 03:57:06 PM »

St. Croix as a Wild and Scenic River
Exactly, its soooo "wild and scenic"  :-D:

« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 03:59:12 PM by on_wisconsin »
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2011, 04:28:22 PM »

Just a little ways upstream from Stillwater (like right around the corner), the river is absolutely gorgeous and a national treasure worth preserving.

The old bridge is too far gone even for just cars or bikes.  It's not worth the cost to keep it operational, and it's a safety and navigational hazard left in place so it should be demo'ed.
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froggie

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2011, 06:35:34 AM »

It's also on the National Register of Historic Places (has been since '89) so plain ol' demo is pretty much out of the question.
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mgk920

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2011, 10:51:20 AM »

It's also on the National Register of Historic Places (has been since '89) so plain ol' demo is pretty much out of the question.

Should we just let it collapse into the river on its own accord?

 :hmmm:

Just because it is on the 'National Register' does not protect a structure from demolition (or even significant modifications).  IIRC, Soldier Field in Chicago was on the 'National Register' before its recent gutting and it has since been removed.

Mike
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froggie

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 01:40:13 PM »

No, it doesn't protect it from demolition, but it does mean that all options for retaining the bridge need to be considered first.  In this case, the proposed bike/ped loop trail fits the bill.
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2011, 03:21:12 PM »

Should we just let it collapse into the river on its own accord?

It would make for some good fish habitat.
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Brandon

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 07:56:48 PM »

No, it doesn't protect it from demolition, but it does mean that all options for retaining the bridge need to be considered first.  In this case, the proposed bike/ped loop trail fits the bill.


Only if the bridge is deemed safe enough by engineers.  Otherwise, it's scrap metal.
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on_wisconsin

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2011, 11:57:19 PM »

Speaking of the old bridge:
Quote
Corrosion on Stillwater Lift Bridge prompts lower weight limits

By Megan Boldt
mboldt@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 08/17/2011 08:37:10 PM CDT


State transportation officials are temporarily lowering weight limits on the Stillwater Lift Bridge after a routine inspection found corrosion on the aging bridge.

The load restrictions go into effect today.

Minnesota Department of Transportation inspectors found significant corrosion on a few spots on the bridge that crosses the St. Croix River into Wisconsin. MnDOT is reducing weight limits for trucks until repairs can be made.

"Although the bridge can safely handle day-to-day traffic, heavy loads will wear the bridge out more quickly," said MnDOT state bridge engineer Nancy Daubenberger. "Restricting the loads before and during the repairs will help prevent damage to the bridge."

The limits will be reduced to 24 tons from 28 tons for non-semitrucks and to 28 tons from 40 tons for semitrucks.

Maintenance crews will begin work on the bridge later this week, and repairs should take a week to 10 days. The bridge also is scheduled for repair in the fall of 2012.

Supporters of a replacement bridge at Stillwater have cited the frequency of repairs as a reason to build a new span across the river.

City officials say the 1931 Stillwater Lift Bridge was designed to handle 11,200 cars a day but averages more than 18,000 presently.

Summer traffic can mean as many as 25,000 vehicles going over the bridge daily.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have said a new freeway-style bridge would harm the federally protected riverway and encourage sprawl.

Last fall, plans for a new St. Croix River crossing came to an abrupt halt after the National Park Service reversed an opinion it issued five years earlier and ruled that the current plan would conflict with the U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The only way to get around that ruling is for Congress to intervene. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., have introduced legislation exempting the bridge from the act.
http://www.twincities.com/washington/ci_18701134

In this case, the proposed bike/ped loop trail fits the bill.
Only if the bridge is deemed safe enough by engineers.  Otherwise, it's scrap metal.
Please watch VERY disturbing :
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 11:27:51 PM by on_wisconsin »
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on_wisconsin

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2011, 12:55:54 PM »

Here is a VERY high quality animation of the project:
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 04:56:00 PM by on_wisconsin »
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The High Plains Traveler

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2011, 07:29:20 PM »

Damn, that's a high-quality video rendition. I felt like I was actually driving down that highway, not living in a cartoon. It brought back for me the trips into Wisconsin for a beer-fueled float down the Apple River.

The current bill before Congress to exempt this project from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was introduced by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Michele Bachmann (yes, that Michele). Their relative political leanings are such that if they entered the same room they would simultaneously self-destruct.

Despite this uncharacteristic comity between the liberal and conservative, there continues to be opposition to any kind of a bridge. Furthermore, there is another proposal being floated by a local group for a three-lane bridge with a reversible-direction lane. They claim it would have less impact on the river and still be mostly adequate for traffic, given that the housing slump has, at least for now, put a serious crimp in the marketing of Wisconsin housing to workers in the Twin Cities.

This project is sooooo overdue. Please let it happen.
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Stephane Dumas

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2011, 07:36:16 AM »

Nice quality of the video :)

As for the frontage roads along MN-36, did MNDOT studied the possibility to convert them into one-way service roads a la Texas style?
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flowmotion

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2011, 11:54:17 PM »

They should have animated in some Walmarts and spec homes on the Wisconsin side, because that's what's going to happen :D

I'm surprised there aren't plans to remove the last few stoplights on MN 36 near Stillwater.
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froggie

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2011, 07:25:00 AM »

Quote
As for the frontage roads along MN-36, did MNDOT studied the possibility to convert them into one-way service roads a la Texas style?

No.


Quote
I'm surprised there aren't plans to remove the last few stoplights on MN 36 near Stillwater.

That's a MnDOT goal, but they don't have the money to do it, even with the bridge funding.
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on_wisconsin

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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2012, 08:14:20 PM »

Quote
US Senate unanimously passes St. Croix River bridge bill

Associated Press
January 23, 2012 - 6:59 PM


The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a bill clearing the way for a new bridge over the St. Croix River near Stillwater.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, led efforts in the Senate to pass the bill. It now goes to the U.S. House.

Klobuchar says the bill has bipartisan support. The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota and Wisconsin Sens. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, and Ron Johnson, a Republican.

The bill would exempt the proposed bridge from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

In a statement, Klobuchar says the current 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge is "outdated for the needs of the region."

U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum of Minnesota say there's no need for such a big bridge as the one proposed.
http://www.startribune.com/politics/137929743.html
 :cheers:
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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2012, 10:15:40 PM »

Finally! Now hopefully it passes the house so that construction can finally get started!
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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2012, 09:50:18 AM »

Damn, that's a high-quality video rendition. I felt like I was actually driving down that highway, not living in a cartoon.

Oh, I could tell it wasn't reality due to the obvious lack of maroon minivans.  I mean, really, this is supposed to be Minnesota, right?  And what's with slower traffic flowing on the right?  No way that's Minnesota!
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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2012, 01:28:11 PM »

ABOUT TIME!! I moved almost 6 years ago, shocked that this just finally got approved
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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2012, 01:36:16 PM »

Quote
Oh, I could tell it wasn't reality due to the obvious lack of maroon minivans.  I mean, really, this is supposed to be Minnesota, right?

I don't know which Minnesota you've visited...but the Minnesota I grew up in didn't have maroon minivans...

As for the bridge, I'm mixed on this.  On the one side, a 4-lane bridge is needed...but on the flip side, not only is the current plan hideously expensive (with MnDOT picking up the bulk of the tab), but it will encourage more sprawl development in St. Croix County, which I *DO NOT* see as a positive.
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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2012, 03:36:10 PM »

I don't think sprawl is such a bad thing.  In a perfect world more business would be in the suburbs, but those people would also live close to work.  Am I weird in that my girlfriend and I work 9 miles apart and got a place halfway in between?  Here in Austin TX they decided that if they didn't build it, they wouldn't come.  They came.  Traffic is a mess, not enough roads.
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Re: Stillwater Bridge
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2012, 03:40:32 PM »

I don't think sprawl is such a bad thing.  In a perfect world more business would be in the suburbs, but those people would also live close to work.  Am I weird in that my girlfriend and I work 9 miles apart and got a place halfway in between?  Here in Austin TX they decided that if they didn't build it, they wouldn't come.  They came.  Traffic is a mess, not enough roads.

businesses are already in the suburbs - that is the definition of sprawl! 
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