St. Croix Economic Development Corporation: St. Croix Crossing opens, large crowd and dignitaries celebrate

On Wednesday, August 2nd, a crowd estimated at between 3,000 and 4,000 helped local, state, and federal officials celebrate the ceremonial opening of the St. Croix Crossing that connects St. Croix County, Wisconsin and Washington County, Minnesota. The Crossing opened at 8:00 p.m., resulting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in both directions, reflecting the pent-up interest in the project. 

Dignitaries included Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, U.S. Representatives Ron Kind and Sean Duffy, both from Wisconsin, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, numerous state representatives and senators from both states, and mayors-town board chairs.

Opening of the Crossing followed four years of construction, 2013-2017. The summer of 2012 was spent conducting boring tests in the river down to bedrock. This helped prospective general contractors understand the details of securing five sets of piers in the St. Croix River. The costs to construct the bridge, improve intersections along Minnesota State Highway 36, design and build the Wisconsin State Highway 64-County Road E interchange, and build a new section of Highway 64 is estimated 
at $650 million.

A new bridge over the St. Croix River has a long history, perhaps going back to the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. The St. Croix is a protected natural resource under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. After several failed attempts at a new bridge, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives successfully approved an exemption in early 2012 to allow the project to move forward.

The Crossing is an extradose design, or modified cable stay bridge, only the second of its kind to open in the United States. Cables support the bridge deck, but the pier towers are below the height of the river bluff in Wisconsin, in keeping with the scenic riverway. The upstream side of the bridge deck includes a 12 foot wide path for recreationalists. It is separated from vehicular traffic. Scenic overlooks are located at piers 8 (closest to Wisconsin), 6 (in the approximate middle of the river) and 4 (closest to Minnesota).

The historic Lift Bridge in downtown Stillwater, Minnesota closed the same time the new Crossing opened. It will reopen in 18-24 months, following its rehabilitation, including a new paint job back to its original green color. Thereafter, the Lift Bridge becomes an integral element as a recreational amenity for walkers, runners, cyclists, and tourists to enjoy. Paths in both Wisconsin and Minnesota will connect the Lift Bridge and the Crossing.

The local units of government in both Wisconsin and Minnesota look forward to new opportunities the new and improved bridge will bring to the region.