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Letter to the Editor: The Real Problem Is Not The Bridge, It's Stillwater.

A letter to the editor from Ralph Larson about the St. Croix River Crossing.

Here's my contribution to your criticism of the Bridge conspiracy .

I have lived in Bayport for more than 30 years and am well aware of the problems the traffic causes in downtown Stillwater where the congestion and pollution are objectionable.

Probably the worse problem is caused by those who drive through residential sections to circumvent the backed-up traffic on highway 36/95 at the bridge. The real problem is not the bridge, the problem is Stillwater.

Driving through Stillwater it is obvious that the main cause of congestion are the various stop lights and sharp turns at the bridge.

With only 9,000 vehicles per day it is easy to figure that a two-lane bridge unobstructed at each end could carry the traffic and there would be no problem!!

If for example, the traffic moved slowly at 30 mph with a distance between cars of 50 feet, the bridge could handle 3000 cars per hour.

There might be a little slow-down during rush hour, during the periods that Andersen Windows has shift changes as many employees live in Wisconsin, or during the boating season when the lift bridge is raised during non-rush hours.

The need for a four lane $700,000,000 bridge at Stillwater is hard to justify.

The bridge primarily serves commuters from St. Croix County because Wisconsin east of this county is very sparsely populated.

The major cities serviced by the bridge are Holton, Hudson, Somerset, New Richmond and Boomer. These cities have a population of 30,000 people while the population of St.Croix County is 85,000 in the incorporated areas.

Looking at these numbers, it is hard to see how these few people would need such a big bridge. The prospect for St. Croix County to grow substantially is slim. In fact last year, the total bridge count dropped from 18,000 to 17,000 perhaps caused by the employment situation/economy.

At the expense of sounding heretical, I would propose that a similar lift bridge be constructed about a half-mile south of current site. With no obstructions it could handle the traffic very far into the future.

Ralph H. Larson, Bayport

Mary Ruch February 26, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Just curious, but what bridge traffic really requires a lift bridge? If it is just the paddle boats, they can go south. Perhap one end of a stationary could be elevated to allow sail boats and higher vessels to cross, but the steep incline on the Wisconsin side could easily accomodate that (along with some dredging near shore).
Old Mort February 26, 2012 at 07:20 PM
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME! RALPH FROM BAYPORT HAS REITERATED AGAIN WHAT LETTER WRITERS HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR WEEKS. ONLY PROBLEM IS: GOVERNOR DAYTON DOESN'T READ THIS COLUMN. NEITHER DOES CONGRESS IN WASHINGTON D.C. BUT WE HAVE BACHMANN , DAYTON, FRANKIN AND KLOBUCHAR BARKING THEIR HEADS OFF ABOUT THIS. MONSTEROUS FIASCO THAT WILL BE MINNESOTAS MOST EXPENSIVE BRIDGE EVER, JUST PAYING OUR HALF AND ALL THE HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENTS AND LIGHTS THAT GO ALONG WITH IT. DIDN'T DAYTON TELL US WE WOULDN'T BE GETTING ANY PROPERTY TAX REFUND BECAUSE THE STATE IS SO BROKE? WHAT A BUNCH OF HOOHA! LOOKS LIKE BETTY McCOLLUM IS THE ONLY POLITITION WE HAVE THAT KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON AND A SANE WAY TO SOLVE IT.
Jim February 26, 2012 at 07:52 PM
2 cents. There is NO commitment anywhere in a state or federal constitution to provide a quick commute to everyone living in Wisconsin, NONE! There are adaquate EMPTY houses on the west side of the St Croix for all those commuters living in Wisconsin. Here's an alternative to a new bridge, provide interest free loans for Minnesota houses for those Wisconsin commuters. If those commuters using the lift bridge want a new house there are 10 MILES of buildable real estate between Oakdale and Stillwater, plenty of open space for new house construction. BTW: There is NO DIFFERENCE between living in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Of course the one difference would be if all those Wisconsin commuters lived in Minnesota there wouldn't be all the traffic congestion in Stillwater, SAVE $700,000,000. There is a need for a replacement for the lift bridge even for low traffic levels. I still say a suspension bridge across the narrows north of Stillwater would be $400,000,000 less expensive, better looking, much smaller, would enhace the beauty of the area, would have far less environment impact, etc etc.... I don't always see eye to eye with Betty M. but admit it she is 100% correct on this issue.
Susan February 26, 2012 at 11:37 PM
The Center for Community & Economic Development report on western Wisconsin shows that the projected population growth in St. Croix County will be 58% over the next 20 years: at http://stcroix.uwex.edu/files/2011/03/state_of_western_wi1.pdf This would mean that 14,000 people will be using this bridge each day instead of 9,000. In my opinion, that statistic does not support the scale of the proposed freeway mega bridge.
William Pappas February 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Thomas, you are assuming that logic ever gripped this problem. From the moment MNDOT proposed a super sized crossing that had no relationship to the population in Wisconsin and ignored the restrictions of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, logic has taken a permanent holiday. Your proposal is just what the Sensible Bridge folks have in mind. The only problem is that MNDOT (aided by Norm Colemans's requirement that this bridge be a 4 laner) has placed too many requirements on traffic flow for their concept which completely drives up the cost and makes a wreck of the valley slopes. Then you have Mayor Haryski that demands MNDOT give hime the "promised signature bridge" or quite simply the largest structure that can be placed in the valley. It is all really quite obscene when the outsized cost is compared to the current declining traffic counts into and out of Wisconsin. The very bridge you describe, Thomas, is one that some are negotiating right now to fall in the same footprint (close enough anyway) so as not to need an exemption. If that happens Interior has already indicated they will allow the proliferation of another bridge. One other item: Bridges on the historic register can be torn down to make way for new ones. We don't want that but it does happen. Because bridges have a life span; they can't stand forever which is why they can be replaced even if listed on the historic register.
William Pappas February 27, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Sorry, the above comment should have been directed to Ralph, not Thomas.
Randy Marsh February 27, 2012 at 04:06 PM
William, how does what you suggest get any of the traffic out of downtown?
William Pappas February 28, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Randy, my comment was probably confusing. The Sensible bridge proposal takes off from the existing Wisconsin bridge landing and lands just south of Stillwater, thereby directing traffic away from downtown. That crossing may be able to be seen by the Interior Department as being in the same footprint and not needing an exemption. I'm not suggesting we tear down the existing bridge and build the new on the same footprint. But I am challenging the assertion that historic bridges cannot be torn down. They can.
Jim February 28, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Highway 36 through Oakdale has 40,000 vehicles use it per day. AND MnDOT hasn't seen the light that the stop light at 120 and 36 really needs replacement with an overpass. Oh why bother, there have only been 2 fatal pedestrian accidents there in the past 2 years. Who will be the next to die attempting to cross 36 with vehicles traveling at 70 MPH on 36? The Stillwater bridge for $700,000,000 for 9,000 vehicles is astoundingly STUPID!! If there ever was a "bridge to nowhere" the one proposed by MnDOT IS IT!!! Shame on MnDOT!! Have they no logic? Meanwhile the are no throwable life preservers on the Lift Bridge, you know so MAYBE someone could be saved when the lift bridge sinks.. Government out of control, AND STUPID!!
rwilliams February 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Agree 100% with Thomas. There is no statute that says a bridge must be places every 7 miles along a river. There are plenty of river cities that have only 1 major bridge to another city. If you (meaning WISCONSIN residents) feel its unsafe, then use the bridge you already bought -94. Don't make us (meaning MINNESOTA) pay for YOUR CONVENIENCE!

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