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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Winter 2005 arrow Minnesota and Wisconsin: Construction of a New Crossing Over the St. Croix River
Minnesota and Wisconsin: Construction of a New Crossing Over the St. Croix River

Agencies: Federal Highway Administration and National Park Service

As reported in the fall 2004, spring 2004, and summer 2003 Case Digests, the ACHP has been working with the Federal Highway Administration and others on the fate of the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which spans the St. Croix River between Stillwater, Minnesota, and Houlton, Wisconsin.

The National Register bridge will not be able to accommodate projected traffic demands, and its future had been in question. Through the Section 106 review process, however, FHWA effectively considered the effects of its construction plans on cultural and natural resources, including the historic bridge. The projectís consulting parties have agreed to keep the community icon and convert it to a pedestrian and bicycle trail.

Black and white image of the Stillwater Lift Bridge with the lift up, over the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin Stillwater Lift Bridge, St. Croix River, MN-WI
(photo: Minnesota DOT)

In January 2005, the project’s consulting parties met and agreed on the future of the National Register-listed Stillwater Lift Bridge. The 70-year-old bridge, which is a contributing element to the Stillwater Cultural Landscape District, will be converted to a pedestrian and bicycle trail once a new traffic bridge has been constructed. The State of Minnesota agreed to retain ownership of the bridge after its conversion.

The project’s consulting parties generally support the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s plan as long as funding is secured for the total mitigation package, including repairs to the bridge and $3 million to $5 million for indirect impacts from changes in land use. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN-DOT) says that it will carry its request forward to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Environmental Streamlining Task Force.

While MN-DOT has proposed establishing an endowment fund to assist the future operation and routine management of the bridge, it could not be used for a projected $7 million in repairs needed for damage caused by current vehicle traffic. MN-DOT can apply for Federal grants to assist with the anticipated repair, but such funding is not guaranteed.

To ensure that the critical work is done, the consulting parties have asked FHWA to make a more reliable commitment to the bridge’s rehabilitation.

The project’s Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement, which should be distributed to the consulting parties by April 2005, will include the final Section 106 agreement.

For background information on this case, see the fall 2004, spring 2004, and summer 2003 Case Digests.

Staff contact: Laura Henley Dean

Updated March 8, 2005

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