Governors of Minnesota and Wisconsin met Friday at the St. Croix River, which divides their states, with a promise that a new four-lane bridge will bring economic growth.
Successful legislation in Congress allowing construction of a $676 million bridge project at Oak Park Heights stands as "a shining example" of bipartisanship in government, said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, who joked with Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a brief festive appearance that drew about 100 supporters near the Stillwater Lift Bridge.
"A bridge called 'cooperation,'" is how Walker referred to the multi-decade effort to retire the Lift Bridge, which would become part of a pedestrian loop trail once the new bridge opens in 2017. "This is a great example of crossing state lines and party lines to get something done."
Additional roadblocks to construction remain, although both governors said they're confident of solutions.
In Minnesota, a lingering dispute over underground utilities where the bridge approach would be built on Hwy. 36 -- and potentially millions of dollars in new taxes for Oak Park Heights property owners -- remains unresolved. In Wisconsin, a funding gap of about $25 million remains.
Friday's rally at the St. Croix River in downtown Stillwater was the latest in a series of appearances by elected officials to promote the new bridge.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who favored a smaller bridge, on Friday called on Dayton and Walker to speak out strongly against Republican-proposed cuts in federal transportation spending. The loss of $40 billion in federal funding would leave road and bridge projects across the nation in a tough spot, she said.
Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037 Twitter: @stribgiles