Good news, Stillwater: Your treasured Lift Bridge will reopen Monday morning.
Nearly three years after the historic span was closed to vehicle traffic, renovations and repairs to restore the bridge to its original condition and appearance are finally complete. The span is expected to reopen to the public at 8 a.m. Monday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Thursday.
Once a heavily trafficked route for vehicles across the St. Croix River, the lift bridge now will serve as a vital link in the 4.7-mile St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail for pedestrians and cyclists.
It’s a new chapter for the nearly 90-year-old lift bridge, which was replaced in 2017 by the larger St. Croix Crossing bridge to the south. MnDOT already had made repairs to prolong the life of the lift bridge, including a $5 million rehabilitation in 2005 and a $3.3 million upgrade in 2012. Its restoration was included in the $646 million project shared by Minnesota and Wisconsin that built the new bridge.
The restoration included meticulous attention to details. A specialty manufacturer in Miami was hired to build new drums, gears, and other pieces of the bridge’s lifting mechanism using the original plans.
The bridge’s new lights will shine out from lampposts designed to look like the originals, and even the bridge’s color — Federal Green — matches its original paint job.
A grand opening celebration is still on for Aug. 28, but city officials said that could change depending on developments with the pandemic and social distancing requirements that may be in place later this summer.