STILLWATER, Minn. — A $650 million bridge set to open this week in eastern Minnesota will replace a lift bridge that has carried traffic across the St. Croix river to Wisconsin for nearly 90 years.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton announced that traffic on the St. Croix Crossing bridge will start Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Stillwater Lift Bridge, located two miles north, is scheduled to close Wednesday evening.
A car show called Cruisin’ to Closure will commemorate the bridge’s closing.
Stillwater business owner and classic-car collector Mark Desch will be the last person to cross the bridge before it closes. He’ll drive across in his blue Stutz DV-32 Convertible Sedan, which was made in 1931, the same year the lift bridge opened.
“Everybody is really excited,” Kozlowski said. “We’ve got nine classic cars representing the nine decades that the lift bridge has been in operation, and we want them to be the last cars to cross the bridge.”
Stillwater residents and businesses said the lift bridge, which saw about 18,000 vehicles a day, caused traffic and noise issues in the downtown area. They said they hope its closure will encourage more people to go downtown.
“The main thing that we hear as a big complaint is the noise,” said Jack Baglio, a manager at Water Street Inn. “So, cutting that noise is going to boost business drastically.”
Lift operators will continue to raise the Stillwater bridge in order to allow boats to pass. It’s scheduled to reopen in 2019 as a bicycle and pedestrian path.
The new bridge connects Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, and St. Joseph, Wisconsin.