St. Croix bridge bill to get another hearing next week

WASHINGTON – As an end of the year deadline draws closer, a U.S. Senate committee is set next week to consider DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s bill to authorize a new bridge over the St. Croix River.

The bill is one of 32 agenda items under consideration at hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Nov. 10. If the bill passes through the committee, its next stop would be the Senate floor. A companion bill with identical language in the U.S. House sponsored by GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is waiting for that body’s leadership to schedule time for the full chamber to consider the measure.

An act of Congress is required to authorize a new span replacing the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge because the St. Croix River is protected by the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Klobuchar’s bill has the support of fellow Minnesota Sen. Al Franken as well as Wisconsin’s two Senators, Democrat Herb Kohl and Republican Ron Johnson. As such, it is likely to sail through the upper chamber once it arrives on the floor. In the House, Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison are opposed to the bill, arguing that the replacement bridge project is too large and costly.

One outstanding issue that may be resolved at the markup hearing is how to find $8 million in offsetting spending cuts or revenue increases to satisfy Congressional budget rules. The Congressional Budget Office determined last month that passing a bill authorizing a new bridge would add $8 million to the budget deficit because of earmarks applied to the project in a 2005 transportation bill.

  • Jim Erkel

    The article says that “(a)n act of Congress is required to authorize a new span replacing the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge because the St. Croix River is protected by the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.” This is NOT true. The the bill is required because MNDOT is pushing a specific blufftop-to-blufftop bridge has been found to directly and adversely affect the values for which the St. Croix was designated under the Act. Rather than design a bridge that would be consistent with the outstandingly scenic and recreational values of the St. Croix, MNDOT would rather exempt its proposal from the Act. I guess that kind of arrogance is what passes for environmental stewardship in the Dayton Administration.