St. Croix Crossing opens after decades of debate, development
OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn. – Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today cut the ribbon on the long-awaited St. Croix Crossing project. The $646 million effort connects the city of Oak Park Heights, Minn., to the town of St. Joseph, Wis. It spans the St. Croix River with a more than 5,000-foot extradosed bridge that will carry four lanes of traffic.
Governors Dayton and Walker led the ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. today. The event also included Wisconsin Congressmen Sean Duffy and Ron Kind. More than 1,000 people attended the event, which was open to the public. MnDOT and WisDOT will open the bridge to traffic within 24 hours of the dedication.
“This new bridge reinforces the strong economic ties between Minnesota and Wisconsin, better connecting people with jobs, families, and better opportunities on both sides of the river,” said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. “I thank the strong bipartisan leadership from both states that has made this project a success, supporting jobs for more than 3,000 people from Minnesota and Wisconsin over its four-year construction.”
“This project provides a sorely needed new connection between Minnesota and Wisconsin,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “It has been a monumental effort and one that will serve the citizens of Minnesota and Wisconsin for generations.”
The project replaces the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which was dedicated more than 80 years ago. Since it opened, the Lift Bridge has carried thousands of motorists between the two states on Minnesota Highway 36 and Wisconsin Highway 64. Over the years, as traffic increased, travelers faced mounting congestion because the bridge periodically needs to lift to accommodate boat traffic on the St. Croix River.
The new bridge, about a mile downstream from the Lift Bridge, is designed to carry more than twice the 18,000 vehicles a day that now cross the river. The St. Croix Crossing is 100 feet wide and stretches between 110 feet and 150 feet above the water, allowing boat traffic to freely move beneath it.
The bridge is a hybrid design structure combining a cable stayed build with a segmented concrete box design. The hybrid design was used to ensure that the pier heights, which are 65 feet above the bridge surface, would not be higher than the bluffs along the river. It is intended to fit into the river gorge as naturally as possible.
There are more than 42 million pounds of concrete in the bridge, and its 1.1 million square feet of surface area required more than 22,000 gallons of paint to cover it. Hundreds of area workers toiled on the construction project, which began in 2012. At its peak, more than 400 men and women from Minnesota and Wisconsin labored on the project.
Many stakeholders and coalitions have been involved over the years in the St. Croix Crossing project.
“This project is a testament to what strong cooperation between states can do,” said Zelle. “The bridge is a work of art and it is also a technological marvel. Citizens in this region will be well-served for decades to come.”