The new St. Croix River bridge will open to vehicle traffic soon after an Aug. 2 ribbon-cutting ceremony, though exactly when hasn’t yet been determined.
“Maybe at midnight or the next morning. It’s going to be within a day or two of that ribbon cutting,” said Kevin Walker, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The dedication, open to the public, will begin at 10 a.m. on the eastbound Hwy. 36 approach ramp spanning Hwy. 95 in Oak Park Heights.
Among the elected officials expected to attend are Govs. Mark Dayton of Minnesota and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and numerous federal, state and local officials.
The dedication will last 45 minutes to an hour, Kevin Walker said.
The four-lane bridge is the centerpiece of an estimated $646 million project that includes new highways on both sides of the river. Construction of the mile-long bridge began in 2014 after decades of negotiations.
The new bridge will replace the 86-year old Stillwater Lift Bridge, 2 miles upriver in downtown Stillwater, as a vehicle crossing. The older bridge will remain in place as part of a pedestrian trail, and the lift will continue operating to allow boats to pass underneath.
Walker said no separate ceremony is planned for when the bridge opens to traffic.
“The barriers will just disappear all at once,” he said. “Everyone wants to line up — who wants to be first, who wants to be second — but it’s not going to be like that.”
More details on the dedication will be released in July, the Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation agencies said.