No new deadline for plan to replace St. Croix bridgeby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
Stillwater, MN — Minnesota transportation officials say there is no deadline for finalizing funding plans for a new St. Croix bridge near Stillwater.
Gov. Mark Dayton this summer set a Sept. 30 deadline to having a plan in place. But a Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman issued an email statement that read "The Sept. 30 date is no longer valid. MnDOT is working with the Minnesota delegation as it pushes the legislation for the St. Croix River Crossing through the Congressional process."
The statement adds that the agency has not yet established a new deadline.
A replacement bridge is necessary because age and the elements are taking a heavy toll on the existing 80-year-old lift bridge in Stillwater.
According to an inspection report, four locations on the existing bridge showed signs of advanced corrosion and deterioration that were inadequate for the posted load of 40 tons for large trucks.
Repairs are scheduled for next year, but will only buy more time for the aging span. Officials say the bridge will have to be replaced.
The department has previously described plans for a four-lane, freeway-style span about a mile down the river from Stillwater that could carry more traffic and relieve congestion.
When Dayton first set the deadline, MnDOT officials said it was necessary because after Sept. 30, allocated money that went unused would go to other state transportation projects.
Two bills in Congress with bipartisan support would bypass federal wild and scenic river protection regulations. Federal officials cited regulations saying the proposed four lane freeway style bridge violates them.