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John Soderberg Day commemorates bridge opening

New Richmond-area resident John Soderberg was recognized Wednesday, Aug. 2, during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the St. Croix River Crossing. Sarah Nigbor / RiverTown Multimedia

HOULTON — The man credited for shepherding the St. Croix River Crossing project from the beginning and through countless struggles was honored on the day the bridge was opened to the public.

The St. Croix County Board proclaimed Wednesday, Aug. 2, as John D. Soderberg Day.

"John D. Soderberg never lost his enthusiasm in championing a new bridge across the St. Croix River," the proclamation states.

Soderberg, a New Richmond-area resident, said at the Tuesday, Aug. 1 County Board meeting that bringing Minnesota and Wisconsin officials together was instrumental in making the project a reality.

Soderberg was also recognized at Wednesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony

"We have a beautiful bridge," he told the board. "You're going to like it."

Soderberg served a vital role throughout the project, beginning with advocacy for a replacement for the Stillwater Lift Bridge and and serving as the first chairman of a two-state advocacy group called the St. Croix Alliance for an Interstate Bridge.

He was a key participant in the 2003-2006 process that led to a recommendation for a bridge to be sited a mile south of the existing Stillwater bridge.

Soderberg's leadership continued "when progress toward a new bridge waned," according to the declaration, which goes on to note how he re-assumed a leadership position, becoming chairman of the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing. He attended several meetings in Washington, D.C., where he met with congressional leaders and committees.

Those efforts helped toward the key exception to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act granted in 2012 by President Barack Obama, that allowed for construction on the project to begin a year later.

The bridge opened to traffic at 8 p.m. Aug. 2.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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