Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin today lauded House passage (339-80) of a bipartisan, bicameral measure to construct a new bridge over the St. Croix River linking Wisconsin and Minnesota that will create thousands of construction jobs.
The new bridge will replace the existing Stillwater lift bridge that is structurally deficient due to a high potential for flooding; functionally obsolete due to narrow lanes, lack of shoulders, and low vertical clearance; and unsafe due to design that would lead to collapse of the bridge if one of its main trusses were to fail.
In November, 2011, Baldwin visited the 81-year-old Stillwater Bridge and met with local community leaders. In a floor speech on Wednesday in which she urged her colleagues to support the measure, Baldwin said she'd listened to arguments on all sides and, after seeing the bridge, deemed the legislation, "necessary, reasonable and extremely time-sensitive."
Baldwin says, "I've heard stories from Wisconsinites who use this bridge daily. Before crossing, they roll down their car windows and unbuckle their seatbelts because they're afraid that something similar to the I-35 bridge collapse (in Minneapolis) could happen to them. This is woefully unacceptable."
This legislation spends no new federal money and will allow Wisconsin and Minnesota to move forward in replacing the existing, structurally deficient bridge. The bill was necessary because, as a result of a lengthy court process, the National Park Service determined that Congress must provide an exception to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in order for any bridge project to go forward.
The measure was supported by the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 139, Wisconsin Laborers District Council, and Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters.
The legislation passed out of the Senate with unanimous consent and the President is expected to sign it.