The fix is in

Lift Bridge repairs start next month; span closes to traffic in fall

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

By 5 p.m. Thursday, the only people at a state Department of Transportation open house explaining repair work on the Lift Bridge were MnDOT officials hosting the meeting at Stillwater City Hall, one resident and her very calm rat terrier, Max.

But maybe residents couldn’t be blamed for not attending Thursday’s meeting in the City Council Chambers, with sunny mild weather outside and the start of work on the St. Croix Crossing bridge on the river.

However, MnDOT’s $3.48 million Lift Bridge repair project will impact St. Croix Valley residents and motorists starting in September, when the span closes to traffic for work on its steel structure. Motorists face a detour of several miles south to the Interstate 94 bridge in Hudson to cross over to Wisconsin.

Repairs to the Lift Bridge begin July 9 with work on piers and the sidewalk that will not impact traffic, said Eric Embacher with MnDOT.

"The work affecting traffic right now is scheduled to start Sept. 9," he said. "The bulk of the work we should have done by the end of the year."

Once the bridge closes to traffic, Embacher said crews will perform repairs on the Lift Bridge structure.

"That primary work is work on the structural steel on the lower third of the bridge," he said, adding that part of the work is replacing rivets with bolts.

Motorists are not the only people affected by the work, Embacher said. He added that boaters would also be affected later in the year.

"We maintain navigation until Oct. 15, I believe," he said. "At that point, we’ll have some extended closure of navigation to fix the lift span."

Embacher said MnDOT scheduled the Lift Bridge project to last 91 days, but he added that the contractor, Edward Kraemer & Sons, bid 85 days to do the project.