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

Agencies: Federal Highway Administration and National Park Service

As reported in previous ACHP Case Digests, the ACHP has worked with the Federal Highway Administration and others to determine the fate of the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which spans the St. Croix River between Stillwater, Minnesota, and Houlton, Wisconsin.

The 70-year-old, National Register-listed bridge will not be able to accommodate projected traffic demands, and its future was in question.

Through the Section 106 review process, an agreement was reached that allows the bridge to remain on the State highway system and be subject to further Section 106 review for future changes in jurisdiction or disposition.

Stillwater Lift Bridge, spanning the St. Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota (staff photo)
Stillwater Lift Bridge, spanning the St. Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota (staff photo)

In December 2004, the Section 106 review process was concluded with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the ACHP, Federal Highway Adminstration (FHWA), and the Minnesota and Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs).

That agreement anticipated that the Stillwater Lift Bridge would remain on the State trunk highway system and be subject to further Section 106 review for future changes in jurisdiction or disposition.

The MOA also provided for recordation of the historic Bergstein House and Shoddy Mill; review of design plans for project elements in the vicinity of a log cabin; and consultation with the Minnesota SHPO to develop a plan for the Stillwater Overlook and the new bridge’s design.

The State of Minnesota will retain ownership and liability for the Stillwater Lift Bridge after it is converted to a pedestrian and bicycle crossing when a new bridge is opened.

Finally, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) also has committed itself to developing a management plan for the bridge and establishing a $3 million endowment fund to support the operation and maintenance of the bridge as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing.

The last major issue had been the bridge’s rehabilitation needs when it is changed from a vehicular bridge to the pedestrian and bicycle bridge. While DOT currently plans to conduct about $5 million’s worth of bridge rehabilitation, about $7 million in additional work is needed.

FHWA and DOT have agreed to commit funding, not to exceed $7 million, for rehabilitation of the lift bridge within one year after the opening of the new bridge. With that commitment, it appears that the last major impediment to the long-term preservation of the lift bridge—and the conclusion of Section 106 consultation—have been resolved.

The ACHP, Minnesota SHPO, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have argued that DOT should complete the additional rehabilitation, because under the Minnesota Statewide Historic Bridge Management Plan, the lift bridge is one of about 24 historic bridges to receive special attention.

The project’s Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement is expected be published in July 2005. For background information on this case, see the winter 2005, fall 2004, spring 2004, and summer 2003 ACHP Case Digests.

Staff contact: Laura Henley Dean

Updated August 31, 2005

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