Crews worked through the night to restore power, but the bridge will close again Wednesday night for more repairs

Success. Minnesota Department of Transportation crews worked through the night to restore power to the Stillwater Lift Bridge and reopen the bridge in time for Wednesday’s morning commute.

The bridge linking Stillwater with western Wisconsin opened at 5 a.m., said Kevin Gutknecht, a MnDOT spokesman.

Crews from MnDOT’s Electrical Services Section made a temporary repair to the bridge’s main power cable after it failed on Tuesday. They will be back out Wednesday to make a permanent repair. To do that, MnDOT will close the bridge at 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Thursday, weather permitting, said spokesman Kent Barnard.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge got stuck for much of Tuesday in the up position, workers got the span to lower, only to get it stuck again halfway up when they tried to raise it again.

It all started with an electrical malfunction about noon, stopping the bridge when it was three-quarters of the way up and about 30 feet above the water, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation officials. Crews hoped to have the malfunction repaired by 8 p.m. Tuesday, but at 9 p.m. MnDOT tweeted, “Stillwater Lift Bridge still closed. Crews will work through the night. Use alternate routes.”

In a late statement Tuesday, MnDOT said the main power cable controlling the lift span had burned out.

The bridge was stuck in the up position last week but only briefly, said Kevin Gutknecht, a MnDOT spokesman.

“The bridge is 80 years old,” Gutknecht said. “It’s been refurbished many times but it’s still an old piece of equipment. Something that’s that big using electrical motors to lift that much weight, faces challenges,” he said.

As crews continued working Tuesday to restore power to the bridge, Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said, “Residents here are pretty used to this sort of thing.”

To cross the St. Croix River, motorists drove south to the Interstate 94 bridge or north to the bridge near Osceola, Wis.

Most pleasure boats could pass under the partly lifted bridge, but a paddle wheel boat was too tall and had to dock elsewhere, Kozlowski said.

The lift bridge is scheduled to close for repairs when the new four-lane St. Croix River Crossing bridge, which is 2 miles downstream, opens in early August. The rehabbed lift bridge will reopen in 2019 as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

Mary Lynn Smith