OPINION: Bipartisan St. Croix Bridge Legislation signed into law
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:01 AM
Last week, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar's bipartisan legislation to allow the St. Croix River bridge project to move forward was signed into law by the President.
Klobuchar drafted the legislation and led the effort in Congress to pass the bill, which was cosponsored by Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Al Franken (D-MN), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) in the Senate and U.S. Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Chip Cravaack (R-MN), and Sean Duffy (R-WI) in the House.
The legislation was also supported by both Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
"After 30 years of debate and delay, we finally got it done," said Klobuchar. "This is a victory for the residents and businesses along the St. Croix River Valley who have waited long enough for a safe, new bridge.
"This effort is an example of what can get done when people put politics aside and do what is best for our state. I appreciate the work of my colleagues in the House and Senate as well as Governor Dayton who helped get this project over the finish line."
This past summer Klobuchar and Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in support of the bipartisan legislation and emphasized the importance of the project to the community.
That paved the way for the bill to be considered by the U.S. Senate where Klobuchar secured its passage unanimously.
Included in the legislation is a package of mitigation efforts to protect the St. Croix River.
The mitigation plan would help promote scenic and recreational values of the St. Croix River by eliminating existing man-made structures, protecting river bluff lands, restoring park land and ensuring public boat access.
The current St. Croix River crossing is at the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge. As the bridge has aged, closings for structural and vehicle collision repairs and maintenance inspections have increased.
In addition, the bridge's unique function as a lift bridge, which lifts frequently to allow boats to travel the St. Croix River, is a source of severe traffic congestion.