A dedication ceremony for the new bridge over the St. Croix has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation announced June 15.
The ceremony will take place on the eastbound Highway 36 approach ramp spanning Highway 95 in Oak Park Heights. Federal, state and local officials will be present to celebrate the bridge’s completion.
A date for opening the new bridge to traffic has not yet been announced. According to construction manager Terry Zoller, the bridge will open to traffic shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony. He said the goal is to close the lift bridge to traffic the same day the new bridge opens. The timing is still being worked out.
“We like to do it when there’s not a lot of traffic disruption,” he said.
Local officials look forward to seeing the bridge open.
“Everybody’s been waiting and waiting and waiting,” Oak Park Heights Mayor Mary McComber said. “It will be nice to see all the orange barrels come down and traffic start moving. Hopefully they don’t bypass Oak Park Heights — come visit our businesses.”
“There’s a weight lifted off our community’s shoulders … I think, to have a solid date everybody can hang their hat on,” Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said of the ribbon cutting.
The new river crossing, connecting Oak Park Heights with St. Joseph, Wis., will replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge, built in 1931. The lift bridge will close to motorized vehicles and become a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Kozlowski said that’s what’s most important to Stillwater.
“Really what impacts our community is that bridge closing,” he said. “We get our downtown back. … When we drag that road-closed sign out … that’s when the fireworks need to go off.”
Not literal fireworks, however — Kozlowski doesn’t expect there to be a budget for that. But he said plans are in the works for a celebration near the lift bridge when it closes. He hopes to see the lift bridge close the same day the new bridge opens.
The official announcement said more details on the dedication are expected to be released after July 4.
McComber said Oak Park Heights has talked with the town St. Joseph about a celebration in addition to the ribbon cutting. With the official ribbon cutting date set, McComber hopes to finalize other details in the coming weeks.
Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]
This story has been updated.