TIMELINE: Stillwater bridge through the yearsStillwater bridge debate has lasted decades. Follow a timeline of the significant dates and facts.
The Stillwater lift bridge opens, replacing an aging wooden structure at the same location.
Spring flooding forces Minnesota to start considering a replacement bridge between Houlton and Stillwater, Minn.
Record flooding on the St. Croix River renewed debate about the construction of a possible new span. Several new routes across the river were studied through the 1960s.
The National Wild and Scenic Riverway Act is adopted by Congress and a portion of the St. Croix gains the designation as a protected waterway.
Plans for a new bridge stall out as funds could not be secured.
The lower St. Croix River is added to the Wild and Scenic Riverway System, protecting much of the river from obtrusive development along its shores.
Wisconsin and Minnesota work together in an effort to construct a $20 million to $30 million bridge. Traffic volumes on the existing bridge are estimated at 13,000 vehicles per day.
Officials identify four possible sites for a new bridge — two in the downtown area, one north of Stillwater and one south.
Three potential bridge corridors are analyzed with no immediate action taken on a preferred plan.
Plans for a new four-lane bridge emerge. The crossing would be constructed about one mile south of the current lift bridge. Final design work on the bridge and approaching roadways is completed. Property needed for the project is purchased and homes demolished to make way for the bridge. Site preparation begins in Oak Park Heights, Minn.
The National Park Service determines that the proposed bridge would have a negative impact on the riverway. Expected permits to allow for the bridge’s construction are not issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Sierra Club and the Voyageurs National Park Association file a lawsuit to stop construction of the span.
To address concerns about possible environmental impacts from a new bridge, a new bridge alignment and design is proposed. A 21-member advisory group helps guide the process.
Negotiations over the new bridge stall as officials decide what to do with the current lift bridge. Discussions center around removal of the structure, converting it to a pier or leaving the bridge intact.
Work is suspended on the project due to insufficient federal funding for the lift bridge mitigation alternatives, the inability of federal, state, and local agencies to reach a consensus on the disposition of the lift bridge, and failure to reach consent for the project from municipal leaders.
The bridge process begins again. A new corridor for a future bridge is proposed.
President George W. Bush issues Executive Order 13274 to help streamline environmental review of transportation infrastructure projects. The St. Croix River Crossing project was added as one of the seven projects nationwide covered by this executive order.
The RESOLVE stakeholders resolution process is instigated to bring about agreement on the current bridge and future bridge across the St. Croix River. Some 26 identified “stakeholders” are involved in the process.
Estimated project cost rises to $484 million.
The U.S. Park Service changes course and says it will allow the bridge project to move forward, despite its continued concerns over the span’s likely impact on the riverway.
Federal authorities decide that the environmental review is completed and the bridge project is set to move ahead.
The Sierra Club files another lawsuit, noting that construction of a new bridge would violate federal laws that protect the St. Croix River.
A district court judge sides with the Sierra Club, questioning the Park Service’s rationale behind its change of heart.
The U.S. Park Service determines that the proposed bridge would have a negative impact on the riverway, stopping the project again.
Bridge backers determine that the only way to get a new bridge constructed is for the U.S. Congress to allow for a project-specific exception to the Wild and Scenic Riverway Act.
The U.S. Senate passes the St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act on Jan. 23. On March 1, the U.S. House approves a similar bill on a 339-80 vote.