St. Croix bridge officials take show on the roadTransportation officials from Wisconsin and Minnesota converged on New Richmond on Monday to talk about the long-awaited St. Croix River Crossing project.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Transportation officials from Wisconsin and Minnesota converged on New Richmond on Monday to talk about the long-awaited St. Croix River Crossing project.
During an afternoon open house, project managers and others were on hand to answer questions and share information about the project and its likely impact on the region.
The New Richmond gathering was the sixth of a series of meetings hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to reach out to the public as the major infrastructure project ramps up. Additional meetings will be scheduled in Hudson, Osceola, River Falls and more.
According to Jon Chiglo, St. Croix project manager with the Minnesota DOT who also led the successful completion of the new Interstate 35W bridge in 2007, the two states are offering numerous meetings to allow for plenty of questions, feedback and free flowing information.
“Summer isn’t always the best time for people,” he said. “We want to give people enough opportunities to come and meet with us. It’s been well received. We’ve had good attendance at all of our meetings.”
David Solberg, project manager with the Wisconsin DOT, said the bridge is by far the biggest project in the Eau Claire region in the coming.
Construction is slated to begin in 2013, with completion expected in 2016.
The next major step in the process will be the purchase of properties in western Wisconsin.
According to Ann Giese, real estate specialist with WisDOT, an additional 40 to 50 parcels will need to be purchased to connect the bridge with the four-lane Highway 64 to the east.
Once the final layout for the roadway and approaches is completed, Giese said the state will complete appraisals for the property it needs and then will mail purchase proposals to various landowners.
Giese said landowners have the right to seek a second appraisal, with the cost being picked up by the state. If a second appraisal is done, the state and landowner would then try to negotiate a final purchase price.
Current cost estimates for the overall bridge project are $633.4 million, with the actual bridge estimated at a cost of $293 million. The span will replace the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge with a four-lane expressway that will improve motorist safety and address traffic congestion in downtown Stillwater.
The current Lift Bridge will then be converted into a pedestrian and bicycling crossing and connected to a trail loop on both sides of the river.