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Upper Midwest members of Congress support new bridge

WASHINGTON D.C. - All four U.S. Senators from Wisconsin and Minnesota back a proposal for a new, four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River.

The bill they have introduced includes the first-ever exemption for a bridge covered by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Those opposing the $600 million dollar project say the bridge costs too much and doesn't fit with the scenic river.

On the other hand, the current bridge is 80 years old and, with only two lanes, isn't adequate to handle the amount of traffic in the growing area. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Herb Kohl points out that St. Croix County is growing, quoting here, "faster than any other place in our state."

The bill is the same one introduced a few months ago by Minnesota House Republican Michele Bachmann of Stillwater, which has gotten support from Wisconsin House Democrat Ron Kind and Republican Sean Duffy. The governors of both states also support it.

The measure would nullify rulings from a federal judge and the National Park Service that the proposed bridge violates the Saint Croix River's protections under the Wild-and-Scenic Rivers Act. The main Senate sponsor of the bill, Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, said it includes a package of mitigation efforts to protect and promote the scenic river. It would remove current man-made structures, protect bluffs, and ensure public access for boats. The new bridge would be located between Stillwater and Hudson. It would replace the two-lane Stillwater Lift Bridge that's 80-years-old.

Stillwater's mayor says his residents are tired of the massive daily traffic jams, as thousands of Wisconsin commuters use the bridge and parade through Stillwater to get to-and-from their jobs in Minnesota's Twin Cities.

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