Dayton puts the kibosh on smaller St. Croix bridge

There’s a new episode in the long-running St. Croix bridge melodrama.

stillwater bridge.jpg

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership, a coalition, sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton urging him to take seriously the idea of a smaller bridge over the river.

And then there’s a response to the letter from Dayton.

Basically, it’s “nope”.

Forget the smaller bridge.

“A number of options were considered before they chose the one that they chose, so there’s a reason why it was selected,” said Dayton’s spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci. “Certainly there are other options, but this is the closest we’ve come in 10 years to having it finished, and that’s why we’re going ahead with the current plan.”

You’ll recall from earlier scenes in this long-running soap opera that Dayton and MnDOT set a deadline of having a final bridge plan in place by Sept. 30.

Why the deadline?

MnDOT says there are lots of other projects in line waiting for that money, and the agency says if the bridge is a no-go, then they need to get busy on plans for them.

Here are some excerpts from the letter sent by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership:

The Lower St. Croix, a federally-protected Wild and Scenic River, is currently threatened by the proposed $690 million highway project which calls for an immense, freeway-style bridge to be built through the heart of the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

We ask you to reject this approach, and instead direct Mn/DOT to fully evaluate a new alternative design.

A smaller, three-lane bridge … would cross the river diagonally beginning just south of downtown. A reversible lane would enable traffic management technologies similar to those used by Mn/DOT to accommodate peak demands on I-394’s MnPass lane.

The current highway expansion project will accelerate greater dependence on oil, and the loss of farms and forests.

Signatures from folks representing 30 various environmental and other interest groups are attached.

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