St. Croix River Bridge construction reaches final phase

One of the biggest projects in the state is reaching a milestone now that the final leg of the St. Croix River Bridge is in place.

Construction started three years ago on the nearly one mile-long bridge between Stillwater, Minnesota, and Houlton, Wisconsin.

The bridge has a long history of political fights and environmental concerns including worries over the area's scenery.

Workers are tasked with connecting nearly 1,000 pieces of pre-cast bridge firmly together. All of the pieces were made downriver near Cottage Grove and barged up by cranes called section lifters. Added one by one, each piece takes about 90 minutes to lift and connect.

“I feel really good about getting to this point today,” a crewmember said. “It’s a great milestone for the project, and for all the guys working out here, really.”

Now with 400 workers at its peak - many of the crewmembers commuting via boat - the project didn’t always have enough on board. This is one of the reasons it was delayed an entire year. Other issues involved problems with high water, tough winters and equipment breaking down.

“Every day there's a new little challenge,” a crewmember said. “But we've had no problem resolving them and keeping the project moving in the direction it’s going, [and] it will provide a beautiful, safe, quality bridge for the next 100-plus years.”