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St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DUFFY. I appreciate the gentleman from Wisconsin yielding.

I think it is important that we are clear about what this bill truly does. This bill exclusively deems the St. Croix River consistent with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That's all it does is deem it consistent. There is no appropriations aspect; there's no budgetary authority. All we're doing is deeming this bridge consistent with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

You know, today is a pretty special day. It's a special day because it's leap day. It's February 29. It comes around only once every 4 years. And I have only been in this House for a year and a couple of months; but I have to tell you what, bipartisanship doesn't come around that often. But it is here tonight on the House floor. Bipartisanship, this is what I mean by that: you have two Governors, a Republican and a Democrat, who support this bill. You have Senators from Wisconsin and Minnesota, all four of them, Republicans and Democrats, supporting this bill. You have progressives and conservatives in this Chamber who have all come out in support of this bill. You have Vikings and Packers supporting this bill. This is a remarkable day.

Listen, we go so far, you have the AFL CIO and local chambers together supporting this bill. This is remarkable. We haven't seen this kind of bipartisanship in the 15 months that I've been here. This is a great bill. This gets the job done because people are doing what their constituents asked them to do, which is work together. It makes sense.

This is working across party lines for a very important reason. It's because we all in this region understand the importance of bridges and what happens when something goes wrong. We all remember I 35 between Minneapolis and St. Paul that had a sufficiency rating of 50, 50 out of 100. And a few years ago, we remember that bridge collapsed. We remember seeing the devastation of that bridge when it collapsed. But a rating of 50 out of 100.

The bridge we are talking about today, the one that is used across the St. Croix River, has a rating of 32 out of 100. It is less safe than I 35 was when it collapsed. And again, it was built in 1931. It is 81, 82 years old.

Listen, the people in this region they need the bridge. They want the bridge. Everybody is working together. I want to make sure we're clear about the people who use this. I know the gentlelady from Minnesota says it's only serving a small community in Holton, Wisconsin, a community of 386 people. You've got to explain to me, then, how 18,000 people go across that bridge every day.

You are dealing with the largest-growing county in Wisconsin, and the 13th largest metropolitan area in this country. That's what this bridge connects. People use it. This is a bedroom county. They work in St. Croix County over in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They use that bridge to get back and forth to work; 18,000 people a day use this bridge. This is no small feat.

We're talking about the funding component saying that it's $700 million. I think we have to be clear on what that $700 million is. It's really only $292 million when you look at the actual cost of construction of the bridge, $292 million. If you want to look at the extra cost that gets you upwards of $600 million, that cost comes from all of the mitigation, the environmental mitigation work that's been requested over the decades of negotiation trying to get this bridge done. It's not the bridge cost. It's the bipartisan effort trying to get people to agree to make this project go forward that increases the cost so dramatically to $600-plus million.

So I think it's important. You look at this, this is a shovel-ready project. Shovel ready. We hear it is going to create 6,000 new jobs over the course of 3 years. And it is far from rushed. We have talked about this, again, for decades. And I think when people would say it is a bad bill or a controversial bill, it's important to note Republican and Democrat Senators, Governors, Congressmen, communities have rallied around this project.

Let's get it done. Let's finally build the St. Croix River bridge.


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