MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — On Wednesday, the St. Croix Crossing opens, a massive new bridge replacing the 86-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge.

It stands about 11-stories tall, and has four lanes crossing the St. Croix River, about a mile and a half south of Stillwater. It connects Oak Park Heights to St. Joseph, Wisconsin.

Construction started in 2013 on the project that cost about $600 million — $377 million for the bridge itself, and the rest was spent on new highways on both sides of the river.

The opening is a big relief for commuters who have dealt with years of traffic jams in Stillwater.

Governors from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with several other elected officials, attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at Wednesday morning.

WCCO has not been told what exact time they plan to open the new bridge, although officials have said it should be within the next day or so.

Once the old Stillwater Lift Bridge is closed to vehicle traffic, it will eventually become a bike and pedestrian bridge.

The eased congestion is anticipated to be a boon to economic development in downtown Stillwater. Starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the city of Stillwater is holding a “Cruisin’ to Closure” celebration, and the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce is celebrating by offering “bridge bash specials.”

Stillwater residents and businesses say the lift bridge, which saw about 18,000 vehicles a day, caused traffic and noise issues in the downtown area. They say they hope its closure will encourage more people to go downtown.

Lift operators will continue to raise the old bridge in order to allow boats to pass.

The new bridge connects Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, and St. Joseph, Wisconsin.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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