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Our View: Open letter for a new president

Dear President Obama:

Now that you've had a couple days to settle into your desk in the Oval Office, we'd like to draw your attention to our little corner of the world.

Here in western Wisconsin, plans for a new river crossing over the St. Croix River have been dragging on for decades.

While some progress has been made toward the ultimate goal of constructing a new bridge between Wisconsin and Minnesota, the project has been delayed time and again.

Certainly there have been some legitimate concerns raised by those who opposed the new bridge. No one wants the project to unnecessarily harm the National Scenic Riverway that we enjoy in these parts.

But many of the earlier questions about the project have now been answered, and yet no work has started.

The time has come to get the Stillwater bridge off the drawing board and into the construction phase. The long-debated project is a perfect candidate for federal stimulus funding and a fast-track approach by state and federal authorities.

According to your previously published qualifications for stimulus funding, the proposed bridge fits in well with your goals.

Not only would the bridge project create jobs in these parts, it would also help move traffic more effectively in both directions. No longer will motorists have to sit in long lines in downtown Stillwater to wait for their chance to cross an aging bridge.

The project will also help to promote economic development in western Wisconsin, as more homes and businesses choose to locate in these parts due to an improved commuter and delivery route.

Existing businesses across the river in Minnesota would also benefit, as customers will have a more reliable way to get to those stores. Too often, the existing historic lift bridge at Stillwater is out of commission, keeping shoppers away from the businesses that rely on Wisconsin dollars to survive.

In the long run, the project will also be good for the environment. Cars and trucks will be moving efficiently over the river, without burning extra fuel while they are idling.

Ask our own U.S. Representative Ron Kind about the likely impact the bridge would have around here. He's heard the pleas and toured the area. He likely would agree that stimulus funding would work well in this matter.

We congratulate you, Mr. Obama, on last week's historic inauguration in Washington, D.C. The moment has given millions new hope that our current economic turmoil will soon come to an end.

But we, in western Wisconsin, would more easily agree that times are changing if the stalled bridge plan were moved forward quickly due to a boost from your package.

Thank you for your time.


Bridge backers

from western Wisconsin