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Stillwater bridge supporters form coalition, urge Congress to support project

Stillwater, Minn. Mayor Ken Harycki, left, and John Soderberg, co-chairmen of the coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing, announced the launch of the coalition at a community event in Stillwater Wednesday morning.

Supporters of a new St. Croix River Crossing today launched a broad-based, community-supported coalition to advocate for the construction of a new four-lane bridge.

The proposed St. Croix River Crossing would replace the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge, which Stillwater, Minn. Mayor Ken Harycki calls a fracture-critical structure. Harycki is co-chairman of the new coalition.

The group gathered today in Lowell Park in Stillwater to discuss the coalitions motives.

"We're here for one reason," Harycki said. "To replace the bridge."

Efforts to replace the current bridge in Stillwater have been going on for years, said John Soderberg, president of First National Community Bank in New Richmond and co-chairman of the coalition.

The bridge is presently in limbo because a federal judge said the National Park Service could not support a new span because the bridge would harm the scenic beauty of the region. As a result, it will take action by Congress to allow for the construction of the bridge across the St. Croix River.

"We're lucky to have a natural resource in our area," Soderberg said. "This plan has many preservation elements."

Those elements include preserving and restoring the current lift bridge and converting it into pedestrian and bike loop trail; building a cable-stayed, four-lane bridge between the wastewater treatment plant and a power plant, which will help to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Stillwater, while not disrupting the scenic views of the St. Croix River Valley; and locating the new bridge just north of Xcel Energy's Allen S. King Power Plant, which the group says will have fewer environmental impacts on the river than other plans to locate the bridge in downtown Stillwater's historic district.

"This project is our community's project," Soderberg said. "Help us join together to get something done."

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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