The Stillwater Lift Bridge will open to traffic at 5 p.m. Friday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.

Favorable weather conditions allowed crews to finish electrical work early, allowing officials to move the bridge’s opening up by a week.

Just last week the department said the bridge connecting Stillwater with the western Wisconsin community of Houlton would definitely not open until Dec. 14, the originally announced date.

Repairs to the iconic 80-year-old bridge began in September and motorists have been forced to cross the St. Croix River in Hudson or Osceola. During the closure, crews fixed the bridge’s steel, concrete, electrical and mechanical components. The $3.4 million project nicknamed the "Stabilization Project" also included painting and replacement of guardrails, curbs and gutters.

The work was needed to maintain a safe crossing and to preserve the bridge until it can be converted to a bike and pedestrian facility in 2017, MnDOT officials said.

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Keeping a watchful eye on Friday's morning commute

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