St. Croix bridge bill clears Senate

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Monday night passed a bill authorizing a replacement for the aging Stillwater lift bridge over the St. Croix River.

The bill, sponsored by DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, passed the Senate with no debate under a procedure known as unanimous consent that is used for legislation considered uncontroversial.

The legislation grants an exemption to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act that protects the St. Croix. The bill authorizes a four-lane replacement bridge south of Stillwater near the town of Oak Park Heights.

“This is a milestone for the St. Croix bridge project,” said Klobuchar in a statement. “I hope the House will now take action and pass this critical legislation so that we can move forward and build this bridge.”

An identical bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in the House of Representatives awaits a vote in that chamber. House leaders have not yet scheduled the bill for debate.

“The first of two hurdles towards necessary Congressional approval has been cleared by this legislation passing the Senate,” Bachmann said in a press release. “I commend the bill’s sponsor, Senator Klobuchar, and its cosponsors, Senators Franken (MN), Johnson (WI) and Kohl (WI), for getting this legislation through without a single opposing vote.”

One of the possible holdups in the House is the opposition of DFL Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, who argue the cost of the project is excessive and say a smaller bridge would suffice.

“We need to find a common sense compromise because a $700 million bridge across the St. Croix River is bad fiscal policy, bad transportation policy, and bad environmental policy,” said McCollum in a written statement.

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