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Stillwater Lift Bridge Closes As River Rises

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(credit: CBS) Nina Moini
Nina Moini joined the WCCO-TV team in August of 2013. She reports f...
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STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) — The Stillwater Lift Bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin was ordered to close indefinitely because of high water.

As authorities around the state braced for flooding from bulging streams and rivers, the Minnesota Department of Transportation ordered the City of Stillwater to close traffic on the lift bridge due to high water levels on the St. Croix River.

Officials expect that river to crest on Thursday or Friday.

The closure all but ensures inconvenience for the commuters who use the bridge, which connects Minnesota Highway 36 and Wisconsin Highway 64.

MnDOT crews raised the bridge at 10 a.m. in order to avoid Monday morning’s rush hour, when the bridge is commonly gridlocked. About 18,000 people a day are estimated to use the bridge.

One man who was born and raised in the area says this is a headache for the people who depend on this route. MnDOT recommends drivers use either Interstate 94 or Highway 243 as detours.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge has been around since 1931, though it underwent a rehabilitation in late 2012.

Authorities stressed that with all the current closures, it’s important for drivers to know that it is illegal to drive on closed roads. Those who do can could face a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail.

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On the other side of the Twin Cities metro area, in Delano, the Crow River is almost at its highest point. The fast-moving river is expected to crest there Monday afternoon and then stay that high into Tuesday.

Bridge Avenue, which crosses the river into the downtown area, is closed. A temporary dirt dike is in place to protect the town in case the water keeps rising.

This is the second highest this river has ever been. It was about two and a half feet higher in 1965.

The Mississippi River has flooded Harriet Island and is threatening some neighborhoods in St. Paul. The river is more than three feet about flood stage. It’s expected to reach its crest on Thursday.

Because several streams and rivers feed into the Mississippi, it may take until the end of summer for water levels to get back to normal.

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