Stillwater bridge “summit” scheduled for next week

According to an invitation obtained by MPR News, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has asked the congressional delegations of Minnesota and Wisconsin to meet with him and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Washington next Wednesday to discuss the planned $700 million Stillwater bridge project.

The governors of both states have also been invited but Gov. Dayton’s office says he won’t be able to attend and will send a representative instead.

News of the meeting comes shortly after a Senate committee gave DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s bill authorizing a bridge the green light. That bill, along with an identically-worded measure in the House sponsored by GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann now await floor votes in each chamber.

Officials in Salazar’s department are on the record as opposing the bridge’s planned exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison and 30 state lawmakers from both states have argued that the planned bridge is too large and expensive and have urged the construction of a smaller span instead.

  • cderyk

    The bridge to nowhere in Alaska was going to cost around $400 million. Replacing the collapsed I-35W bridge cost $234 million. Do we really need to spend $700 million on a bridge from a sparsely populated section of Wisconsin?

  • Michael Wilhelmi

    This bridge was much cheaper before the opponents stalled it with lawsuits. Taxpayers should not be pleased. Stalling the project again will only drive up the cost even further.

    18,000 vehicles per day use a fracture-critical, functionally-obsolete bridge. Do we have to wait for a disaster before we get a new bridge?