Stillwater announces change to lift bridge celebration schedule

Stillwater has announced changes to the schedule for its planned celebration of the historic lift bridge Aug. 2. (Gazette file photo)

Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski has announced changes to events being planned to celebrate the opening of the new St. Croix River Crossing and commemorate the official closing of the historic lift bridge.

Instead of having an event at noon to mark the opening of the new bridge and a separate event later in the day to celebrate the closing of the Lift Bridge, the city is combining the two events.

Stillwater’s event will now be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, in Lowell Park. At the event, elected officials and others who have been involved in the project will gather to commemorate the two bridges before traffic moves across the new bridge and the last cars cross the historic lift bridge. The event will include a live video feed so elected officials in Washington, D.C. can participate.

A statement on the city’s website says city leaders believe the schedule change will give the entire community a way to celebrate both bridges, including those who may not be able to attend the official MnDOT opening ceremony scheduled on the new bridge earlier in the day.

“After decades of delays, this is an important day in the history of our town and we want to make sure people have a chance to enjoy it thoroughly,” Kozlowski said. “There were 15,000 people in downtown Stillwater in July 1931 when the Lift Bridge first opened. We want to have a celebration that local people will tell their grandchildren, ‘I was there.’”

The celebration is taking advantage of the previously-scheduled Cruisin’ on the Croix car show. Extra food vendors are being added to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd.

Kozlowski said car show leaders are working with the city and MnDOT to have nine classic cars representing the nine decades that the Lift Bridge has been in operation to be the last cars to cross the bridge. The cars will be on display for the public to see prior to the closing.

In addition to the classic cars, the labor union Operating Engineers Local 49 will set up its construction equipment simulator. The display is designed to let the public experience what it’s like to operate a bulldozer, an excavator and a backhoe. Over 100 Local 49 members were involved in the construction of the St. Croix Crossing.

The official ribbon-cutting for the new St. Croix Crossing will occur at 10 a.m. Aug. 2. That event is being overseen by MnDOT, WisDOT, the City of Oak Park Heights and St. Joseph Township officials. Oak Park Heights is planning an ice cream social at their Oak Park Crossing park immediately following the ribbon-cutting.

MnDOT is not releasing the time the new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic or what time the lift bridge will close.

This story has been updated.