Survey: Overwhelming Support For New Stillwater Bridge

STILLWATER (WCCO) — The proposal to build a four lane bridge south of Stillwater to replace the historic lift bridge has prompted a lot of debate. However, the first survey to see how residents on both sides of the St. Croix feel about the project shows extraordinary support.

The proposed bridge by Minnesota’s Department of Transportation would cost $690 million. Critics have said the price tag is too high and environmental groups have raised concerns as well.

However, the St. Croix River Crossing Coalition found that 86 percent of area residents support a four-lane bridge to replace the 80-year-old Stillwater lift bridge.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed a bill in support of the bridge that was backed by all of Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators. Supporters of the bridge say these kinds of poll numbers could well be the key to getting the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the bridge bill.

Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki spoke at a news conference Monday, saying that the poll confirmed what many residents had long suspected.

“This clearly reflects that the time to get this bridge built is now,” said Harycki.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, the bridge bill sponsor, agrees and says the poll will help in winning over votes.

“It demonstrates, on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin side of the river, that there is support from the people. We are the people’s representatives and people, in near unanimous voice, say build this bridge,” said Bachmann.

The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives. Opponents, including Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison, have concerns about the cost and environmental problems.

In downtown Stillwater, WCCO-TV found overwhelming support for the project.

Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop is one block from the bridge. Owner Cory Buettner says the new bridge would relieve congestion and lead to more business.

“We already have a good business established,” he said. “This is only going to improve it.”

Across the lift bridge in Holton, Wis., Debra Knops works for B and L Liquor — a spot where many Minnesotans visit on Sundays.

The new bridge would be a mile south of the store, but Knops believes more people will use the new bridge and stop here.

“People know that this store is here. They will come,” said Knops.

As for a timeline, Bachmann would only say she expects a vote very soon on the proposal and she expects if a bill passes, President Barack Obama will sign it.

If that happens, MnDOT says constructions could begin in 2013 and the bridge could open in 2016.

More from Esme Murphy
  • Neal

    I think that a new bridge is well overdue! I would like to go to Stillwater more, especially on the weekends, to enjoy the unique shopping and old-world charm, but I avoid it because of the bridge congestion. Also, I often travel to vacation property in Birchwood, Wisconsin on the weekends and would love a quicker way to get there than having to go through Baldwin to avoid Stillwater bridge congestion.

    • Stillwater is home - Luv our WI cabin

      Poll? one asked my family or myself. We live in Stillwater, we have a cabin in WI and our children live in WI. We aren’t anxious to spoil the beauty of the St Croix River Valley with this expensive bridge for our traveling convenience. Build a smaller bridge to WI for those who cross the river. Once you spoil the scenic river valley a new generation will wonder what all the fuss was about to build such a large bridge. Oh, maybe the new bridge will be unique and have old world charm!

  • sallie

    Talk about a biased poll! The poll is put out by the Coalition that wants to build the ridiculous bridge! Who the heck was polled? That Coalition is headed by the mayor of Stillwater! He wants the bridge so he can say he got the bridge built. If a vote were to be taken of the Stillwater residents, I would bet it would be overwhelmingly against anything that the mayor suggests! How foolish of the the news to report this biased “poll”! Nothing more than rhetoric from the mayor who we know cannot be trusted nor does he represent the voice of Stillwater.

  • Brett

    Like, DUH. The tree huggers would rather wait to see the current bridge fall into the river, then replace it with a wooden bridge made for horses and buggies.

    • Stillwater res.

      The push back is not from “tree huggers” $700 million to where the Apple river, Somerset? Ever hear of Interstate 94

  • Brad

    Great, Stillwater will have a new bridge… but our kids will be so dumb they won’t know how to find it. How about taking 1% of that proposed bridge cost and putting it towards the school board budget shortage?

  • Richard in Minneapolis

    Personally, I’d prefer a tunnel under the river to a bridge over it.

  • MBs colors a showing

    Overwhelming support ! yahoo – imagine that.
    OVERWHELMING SUPPORT from the locals who get all the rest of us to pay for their Glorious OVER-PRICED bridge to WI. Huray for WI – they skate free. Hurray for the local who OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT this – we pay for their newest treasure of over-spending. Who says we cannot have a new Viking staiud. Who says we cannot have light rail and a satellite going daily to Mars?
    Come on – build it sensible, on a reasonable budget.
    This one …. how many ways can you spell BACHMANN PORK ???
    Michell Bachmann – a fiscal conservative??? LMFAO

  • Cya .... MB ;-)

    The real story here indeed is that rotten POS Michelle Bachmann, the anti-big spender. LMAO Michelle – your very own Tea Party dropped you like a fresh terd. I cannot wait to do the same when the redistricting is done. You are about to become compost ….. isn’t that what garbage is when it gets so old and nasty looking? lol

  • gear_daddy

    As far as the gridlock getting across the bridge, anybody with half a brain knows that you shouldn’t follow hwy 36 right down into main street. There are plenty of turnoffs earlier to go thru town and avoid the main street backup.

    As far as getting to NW Wisconsin to your beautiful lake cabin, there are plenty of different ways to go there. Newsflash – a new bridge at Stillwater ain’t gonna get you there faster.

    Why do Stillwater leaders want this? The gridlock doesn’t hurt Stillwater business at all. It’s because they WANT more growth in the area (i.e. Wisconsin), and thereby it increases activity and retail opportunities in Stillwater in general. Say goodbye to quaint Stillwater town, and say hello to new suburban wasteland of housing developments and strip malls (like Hudson).

  • Billy Goat Gruff

    I personally don’t like the design of the new bridge. I feel the vertical columns sticking above the bridge deck will unnecessarily obstruct the view from either side of the river.

  • Tom Brass

    I don’t know who was “polled”, but it wasn’t anyone I know! I live in Stillwater, and yes, a new bridge is long overdue, but not this giant monstrosity! None of the Stillwater residents I know want this particular bridge, it is way too expensive! The only one that will benefit from this bridge are the land speculators trying to get people to move to their property is western Wisconsin. I’ve seen much smaller bridges leading to much larger cities. Did they move Milwaukee to western Wisconsin?!? Yes, build a bridge, one that is much cheaper and much more appropriate!

  • no690milliondollarbridge

    I live in Stillwater and I was called to take this survey. Yes, I want a new bridge, but NO, I DO NOT WANT THE $690 MILLION PROJECT! The survey was designed to get people to say yes to a bridge, without giving the option of a more fiscally responsible bridge plan. The Mayor, and his survey are misleading, and anyone referencing him, or his survey, as a reason to spend so outrageously is being disingenuous and irresponsible.

  • Scott McConnell

    I am a Baytown resident. Do we we need a bridge yes! Why is the only option by law a Mega Bridge at 700 million plus? All the those that for voted for this excess of spending Rep or Dem will not get my vote. Far cheaper to build a free way on the east side of Hudson and connect to 94 and fix the Stillwater bridge . By the way where will the funding for 300 million plus to connect the bridge come from.

  • NO2anew bridge

    No one polled me. I’m against the “new bridge” The only ones who would really benefit – Wisconsin residents who work in Minnesota – and KNEW the old bridge was the route to work when they took the jobs or moved there from MN to build their cheaper houses.. A REAL poll would be -put it on a BALLOT!! Then you would see what the REAL citizens want.
    The $700 million dollar bridge to B & L Liquor for Sunday Minnesota drinkers? – to the Wisconsin cabin when there are two other bridges that cross the river? for Wisconsin residents to get to their jobs in the Twin Cities and bypass downtown Stillwater?? WHO gains? Stillwater? No way – Stillwater would suffer the blight and lose financially in the end – cost of lobbyists? loss of tourists who find a new bridge a visual atrocity? The Mayor & his henchmen? – look carefully – who’s really gaining and what are they gaining?

  • William Pappas

    Scott is correct, Norm Coleman as Senator wrote into law that it must be a freeway style bridge. Talk about enshrining stupidity and wreckless spending. Esmey, you should be embarrased for not indicating who paid for and conceived this biased surve: the Nationial Association of Realtors!! They are the main beneficiaries of the bridge after a few Wisconsin commuters. The owner of the Malt Shop needs a reality check: Let’s see, if I remove 18000 cars a day from driving in front of my store and detour them more than a mile south of town on a direct freeway into Wiscons, my business will flourish more than ever???? When the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is diminished by the exemption required to build the bridge Norm Coleman mandated the entire valley will suffer. Residents, business owners (especially in downtown) and the natural history of the area will be placed at risk. Thousands of residents in Stillwater think this bridge is unnecessary and doesn’t benefit them in any way. This is not a treehugger vs. conservative issue. It is a fiscal responsibility and preserv ation issue. It is about the future of our transportation and growth which does NOT indicate we need a freeway bridge at Stillwater over the St. Croix. In fact this bridge will saddle local communities with millions in upgrade costs and will lead to significantly higher property taxes. While traffic counts have not increased 10,000 cars in the last decade as MNDOT predicted and have actually decreased by 2000 we are betting 700 million and 200 million more from local communities that they will increase by another 30thousand by 2030. Dream on. By the way, Esme, our new congresswoman in Stillwater, Betty McCollum does not support this mega bridge, but a smart and smaller less expensive alternative.

  • William Pappas

    One more thing Esme. Since all Minnesota residents will be asked to pay for the lions share of this bridge they are the ones that should be polled. You’d find that it is not supported outside of the immediate area where the Mayor, sitting on the board of the St. Croix Coalition has flooded the area with misinformation about the bridge and the reality of passage as well as the consequences of not building it and opting for a smaller span. A Minnesota wide poll would reject this cash hog for what it is, parochial pork pie.

  • no690milliondollarbridge

    I am thankful the governor has come to his senses, and put a hard-to-meet deadline on this thing. All Minnesotans should be grateful that he is thinking of ALL of his constituents, and all of the transportation projects instead of spending so much to benefit so few. Spending such a large chunk of the state’s funding on a bridge that mostly benefits people in a different state, is irresponsible.

  • William Pappas

    Last Memorial Day we were returning from a northwoods weekend at approximately 6:30 PM. As we crossed the Stillwater bridge I looked in the rear view mirror and realized I was the only car on the bridge! Most holiday weekends I negotiate the bridge at rush hour and I have NEVER had a problem. One other thing. There is never heavy traffic on the 4 lane expressway to nowhere in Wisconsin.

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