Governors celebrate bipartisan St. Croix bridge

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2012 - 11:48 PM

Some issues remain, but Mark Dayton and Scott Walker praised the breakthrough in the years-old quest for a new St. Croix River bridge.

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

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  • Govs. Mark Dayton, left, and Scott Walker spoke Friday near the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which is to become part of a pedestrian loop when the new bridge is finished.

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