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Stillwater lift bridge

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Stillwater bridge: What part of 'closed' don't they understand?

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON
  • Star Tribune
  • April 12, 2011 - 8:40 AM

As if proving that forbidden fruit is the most irresistible, people can't seem to stay away from the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which was closed Friday because of the flooding St. Croix River.

Despite being blocked by police barricades, despite signs warning people to stay away and despite the deck of the bridge being raised above the surging water, more than half a dozen people have been cited for trying to cross the span, according to Sgt. Jeff Stender of the Stillwater Police Department.

In the most serious case, a Stillwater man was jailed and faces several charges after allegedly assaulting a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) worker who confronted him early Sunday morning.

Steven A. Cran, 46, is charged with trespassing by crossing a police barricade, fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and having an open container of alcohol in public.

According to the complaint, police were called to the bridge about 5:30 a.m. Sunday after the MnDOT employee reported that a drunken, belligerent man had come up to him and said he was going to cross the bridge, adding that he was going to harm the worker and his family. Cran then headed for the elevated deck, which is accessible by ladder on either side.

Cran was found on the Wisconsin side of the bridge, with a bottle of wine that was mostly empty. The officers helped Cran make his way back to Stillwater, the complaint says, and he was arrested and booked into Washington County jail.

Cran had been picked up by police in Oak Park Heights about 2 a.m. after being involved in an alleged shoplifting incident. They took him to a Stillwater home after a preliminary breath test showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.15, about twice the legal threshold for driving.

Despite efforts to keep people off the bridge, Stender said, one man was cited on Friday night after parking his car on the Wisconsin side and strolling across the bridge. He was caught and cited in downtown Stillwater, Stender said.

Five people were cited for trespassing Sunday night, including four teenagers from St. Paul, who Stender said were bouncing off a long, plastic, water-filled bladder that had been set up across Chestnut Street at the bridge entrance to fill a gap in the levee.

Jim Anderson • 651-735-0999

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