Boaters to face no-wake zone, narrower channel

MnDOT logoOAK PARK HEIGHTS — St. Croix River boaters will see a no-wake zone and narrower channel next month as construction of pier foundations for the new bridge begins.

As part of that work, the Oak Park Heights City Council Wednesday approved amended conditional use and interim use permits for pier foundation contractor Edward Kraemer and Sons to set up a dock, barge-loading facility and office on a riverfront site north of Xcel Energy’s King generating plant.

City Planner Scott Richards said both Xcel and state Department of Natural Resources have agreed to Kraemer’s plans and the city Planning Commission had no issues with the permit requests.

Councilman Mark Swenson, who also is Bayport Fire Department chief, praised Kraemer officials for their work with the fire department regarding the staging site.

“As far as the fire aspect, Kraemer has been great to work with,” he said. “From a fire standpoint, that is a very good site.”

St. Croix Crossing Project Manager Jon Chiglo said Kraemer is putting barges in the river and bringing equipment to its staging site.

“You can see the cranes over the tree tops,” he said.

Chiglo told the council that most of this year’s Minnesota approach work would be east of the Minnesota 36-Osgood Avenue intersection.

“There is some work starting next week,” he said. Any traffic impact from the work will not be felt by motorists until after July 4, he added.

Road and intersection work west of the MN 36-Osgood intersection will be done next year, Chiglo said.

Chiglo also noted that the project has received “favorable” utility work bids. Those bids came in at $4.3 million, $1.6 million under the $5.9 million estimate, he said.

Chiglo said at past meetings that MnDOT applied for the no-wake zone and narrow channel in the stretch of river at the bridge construction site for safety reasons.

A MnDOT chart said the narrow channel will be in effect through 2016. The 300-foot channel would be available at all times, but its location will shift depending on the work being done. Buoys will mark the channel and no-wake zone.

Chiglo said an estimated 150 to 250 workers will work two 10-hour shifts six days a week on the project during the construction season.

During a presentation Tuesday to the Washington County Board of Commissioners, Chiglo said work on Wisconsin road approaches in St. Joseph Township begins this fall.

Chiglo also reminded council members that the project office at 1862 S. Greeley St. in Stillwater is open Monday through Friday, with extended hours to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.