Advocates for a New St. Croix River Crossing Launch Community Coalition
Group urges Congress to grant approval of measure that will allow much-needed project to move forward
STILLWATER, Minn. – Supporters of a new St. Croix River Crossing today officially launched a broad-based, community-supported coalition to advocate for the construction of a new four-lane bridge. The proposed St. Croix River Crossing would replace the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge, which is a fracture-critical structure.
The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing also called on Congress to take action on a proposal that would authorize a special exemption for the project to be built. Due to a recent decision by the National Park Service, only Congress may permit construction of new structures across the river.
“People who live in the St. Croix River Valley overwhelmingly support the new bridge and want the ability to safely and efficiently cross the river. The coalition is trying to build on this support and make the proposed bridge a reality,” said Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki, who is also co-chair of the coalition. “We hope that Congress will review the project, understand how important it is to our region, and take action to allow the bridge to be built.”
The coalition, a bi-state entity, includes local elected officials, labor and business leaders, and community members who understand the importance building a new bridge across the St. Croix River. The group is working to educate residents, businesses, and federal and state officials about the scope of the project.
In addition to building a new bridge, the project will reconstruct sections of the highways leading up to the bridge; convert the Stillwater Lift Bridge into the signature element of a new bicycle and pedestrian loop trail; preserve historic downtown Stillwater and other historic sites; and increase public access to the river valley.
“The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing is a wide-ranging coalition of people from both sides of the political aisle and from both sides of the river. We want to make sure we do everything possible to make sure this bridge is built,” said Mayor Harycki, who is also co-chair of the coalition.
St. Croix River Valley residents have been working to replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge for five decades. In 2003 an environmental mediator brought together 27 community members and federal and state regulators to review more than a dozen plans. After three years of work, the group decided that the St. Croix River Crossing is the best solution to balance the region’s needs.
Congressional action needed
For the St. Croix River Crossing project to proceed, Congress needs to allow a project-specific exemption to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This narrow exemption would simply allow this bridge project to be built, while leaving the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protections in place.
“There is a real sense of urgency, because money has already been allocated to build the bridge. If Congress does not take action, this money will be used for other projects, and we will be back at square one,” said John Soderburg, president of New Richmond Bank and co-chair of the coalition. “Every month we delay beyond July 2013 will add over $1 million to the project cost.”
If Congress grants permission for the bridge to be built, construction will begin on July 1, 2013.
The coalition has created a new online resource (www.stcroixcrossing.org) to help people learn more about the project and how to get involved in the cause.
About the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing
The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing is a group of business, labor, government and community leaders from Minnesota and Wisconsin who support building a new four-lane bridge that balances community needs and benefits the entire region. The coalition is working to identify, generate and maintain support among residents, businesses, visitors, and elected officials from both sides of the river and both sides of the political aisle.
For more information about the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing, visit www.stcroixcrossing.org.
Contact: Mike Zipko
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