30 state legislators send letter to DC opposing St. Croix bridge bill

WASHINGTON – A group of 30 legislators from Wisconsin and Minnesota have sent a letter to both states’ congressional delegations in opposition to the bills winding their way through Congress that would authorize a new bridge over the St. Croix River to replace the aging span in Stillwater.

“As legislators on both sides of the St. Croix River we are united in our concerns that the current design of the bridge is far too expensive,” the group wrote, adding that there are cheaper alternatives to the current plans, which are estimated to cost $690 million.

None of the lawmakers represents districts immediately around the site of the current bridge in Stillwater or its proposed, new location slightly further south.

The letter comes as a U.S. Senate committee meets Thursday to decide whether the bill should move to the floor of that body. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced Wednesday that she and DFL Sen. Al Franken had identified $8 million in offsetting cuts that will be made to make the bridge bill compliant with congressional budget rules.

Congress must approve a new bridge over the St. Croix because the river is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Bills authorizing a new bridge have the support of Klobuchar, Franken, Wisconsin’s two U.S. Senators, both states’ governors and Reps. Michele Bachmann, Chip Cravaack and Ron Kind. The bridge connects Bachmann and Kind’s districts. Twin Cities Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison are opposed to the bridge, arguing that it’s too expensive.

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