Washington, DC — U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today led a letter to President Obama urging him to sign her bipartisan St. Croix bridge legislation immediately to allow Minnesota and Wisconsin to move forward with the project. Klobuchar’s legislation passed the House of Representatives today after she led the effort to pass the bill in the Senate last month, and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Klobuchar’s letter was signed by the cosponsors of her bill, including Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Al Franken (D-MN), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Sean Duffy (R-WI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). The legislation is also supported by both Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
“After thirty years of debate and delay, we finally got it done,” said Klobuchar.“This is a victory for the residents and businesses along the St. Croix River Valley who have waited long enough for a safe, new bridge. This effort is an example of what can get done when people put politics aside and do what is best for our state. I appreciate the work of my colleagues in the House and Senate as well as Governor Dayton who helped get this project over the finish line, and I urge the President to sign the bill immediately so Minnesota and Wisconsin can move forward and build the bridge.”
This past summer Klobuchar and Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in support of the bipartisan legislation and emphasized the importance of the project to the community. That paved the way for the bill to be considered by the U.S. Senate where Klobuchar secured its passage unanimously.
Included in the legislation is a package of mitigation efforts to protect the St. Croix River that were developed by consulting the Department of Transportation and National Park Service. The mitigation measures were agreed to in 2006 by the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources. The mitigation plan would help promote scenic and recreational values of the St. Croix River by eliminating existing man-made structures, protecting river bluff lands, restoring park land, and ensuring public boat access.
The current St. Croix River crossing is at the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge. As the bridge has aged, closings for structural and vehicle collision repairs and maintenance inspections have increased. In addition, the bridge’s unique function as a lift bridge, which lifts frequently to allow boats to travel the St. Croix River, is a source of severe traffic congestion.
The full text of the letter is below.
March 1, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20510
Dear President Obama:
We respectfully request your prompt signature of S. 1134, the St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act, which passed the United States Senate on January 23, 2012, and the United States House of Representatives on March 1, 2012.
The bipartisan legislation will allow construction of a new St. Croix River bridge to move forward. The existing crossing at the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge is broadly viewed as inadequate and in need of replacement. As the bridge has aged, closings for structural and vehicle collision repairs and maintenance inspections have increased. In addition, the bridge’s unique function as a lift bridge, which lifts frequently to allow boats to travel the St. Croix River, is a source of severe traffic congestion. The St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act would allow the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation to construct the bridge that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker support.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is the leading sponsor of the project, and Governor Dayton has announced that due to the necessary permitting and other preparatory work, legislation to allow the crossing to be constructed must be signed into law by March 15, 2012. Without enactment of authorization legislation by this date, the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation will have no other choice than to abandon the St. Croix River Crossing Project for 10 years or longer, or risk losing federal and state funding set aside for the project. For a region that has worked so hard for 30 years to advance the only truly viable transportation option, we should not make them wait any longer.
Thank you for your attention to this critical legislation that will increase safety, reduce congestion, improve mobility, and create thousands of much-needed construction jobs in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.