Stillwater bridge planning continuesThe Stillwater Bridge project isn’t sitting idle on a desk somewhere.
By: Laura Kruse, New Richmond News
The Stillwater Bridge project isn’t sitting idle on a desk somewhere.
Planning for the proposed bridge, walking path and remodeling of the lift bridge is making progress.
Area residents had a chance to see just what’s being done and what’s still to be decided at a public meeting on Thursday night at the Somerset High School.
Between 20-30 people attended. Questions and comments were fielded by about eight Minnesota Department of Transportation employees, a couple of Wisconsin Department of Transportation employees and two representatives from the consulting firm.
Another meeting was held the night before in Stillwater.
The proposed bridge will replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge, built in 1931, crossing the St. Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The lift bridge will be renovated into a pedestrian path.
Drawings and animated videos of the proposed bridge were available for meeting attendants to look at.
The look of the bridge was chosen with the help of a stakeholders group, composed of 27 different interest groups. The group began meeting in 2003 and wrapped up their work in 2006.
“The basic look was established at that time,” said Paul Towell, of Parsons Brinckerhoff consulting firm. The company has been on the project for about four months, Towell said.
The bridge will be an extrados-type, supported by three sets of pillars and braced with long lines of cable. It’s span will be about 3,000-feet, which will nearly triple the 1,050-foot length of the lift bridge.
The bridge will be about 175-feet above the water. That will definitely alleviate the boat traffic problem of the current bridge, said Monty Hamri of Mn/DOT.
Two lanes of traffic will flow in each direction. Wisconsin will be responsible for constructing a four-lane road to connect the bridge with the four-lane portion of Highway 64. Minnesota will do likewise to connect the bridge to Highway 36.
There will be lighting for both the traffic lanes and the pedestrian path.
The engineers are trying to avoid light pollution in the design, Towell said. That was one request from the stakeholders group.
The project is now in the preliminary design phase. There are a few decisions left to be made. Two of the decisions will be especially noticeable by the public.
The first decision is the number of pillars in each of the three groups. One design allows for three columns while another has only two. Engineers are still looking at whether the two-column proposal is feasible.
The second issue is the placement of the walking path on the proposed bridge. The new bridge will have a path along the north side, which will loop around to connect with the lift bridge when it is made into a pedestrian path.
In one design option, the path goes around the pillars. The second design has the path follow the roadway, with balcony-like structures around each pillar.
Other decisions include the type of girders and how the support cables are connected to the bridge.
Next up on the design related to-do list are concept refinement, permitting coordination with federal, state and local agencies, final roadway design for both Minnesota and Wisconsin approaches and right of way acquisition.
Also to be resolved is the Sierra Club’s legal complaint. A summary judgement hearing is scheduled for Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
The plan is still for the bid letting for the bridge to be in 2013. The bridge could be constructed in three years, by 2016.
“That’s if everything goes smooth,” Hamri said.
More information about the bridge project can be found at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/stcroix/index.html.