President Obama signed legislation Wednesday to build the long-awaited St. Croix bridge.
The president’s signature comes two weeks – nearly the maximum allowed – after Congress gave the needed environmental clearances for the $690 million project, the largest public works project in state history.
White House officials have not explained the time lag, but it will enter into the lore of the bridge, which has been delayed decades in the courts and in Congress.
Right down to the end, despite overwhelming votes in both the House and Senate, the bridge divided Democrats and administration officials alike. While pro-labor Democrats emphasized the jobs potential of the project, environmentalists in the Interior Department raised flags about granting such a conspicuous exemption to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, a landmark environmental law authored by native son Walter Mondale.
Even after the final vote in the House, bridge advocates like Michele Bachmann and Amy Klobuchar, from opposite sides of the partisan divide, felt it necessary to plead with Obama for his "prompt" signature.
Meanwhile, the debate will continue unabated in Minnesota.
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