Stillwater Lift Bridge stuck in up position for more than 8 hours

The Stillwater Lift Bridge is back open to traffic after it was closed for most of Tuesday due to an electrical issue that has caused the bridge to be stuck in the up position for several hours.

Power was restored to the bridge shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, but the bridge did not fully reopen until 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday. 

MnDOT says a malfunction in an electrical meter socket that monitors power usage at the bridge failed and cut the power to the bridge as it was on its way down at approximately 12:05 p.m. The bridge stopped about 30 feet above the water, about 3/4 of the way up, and remained in that position until after 8 p.m.  

Mike Schmidt, the lift bridge operator who worked the morning shift, was stranded on the bridge. Fox 9 interviewed him while he was still stuck in the air. 

FULL STORY: Stillwater Lift Bridge operator stranded in air for more than 12 hours

Power to the bridge was restored late Tuesday night, allowing Schmidt to get down. But, cabling issues were found, so the bridge remained closed while MnDOT and Xcel Energy crews worked through the night to repair it. 

Alternate routes for crossing the St. Croix River include the Interstate 94 bridge south of Stillwater, and a bridge north of Stillwater in Osceola, Wisconsin. The bridge carries about 18,000 vehicles per day.

According to MnDOT documents, the electrical system was completely replaced during a 2005 rehabilitation, with the exception of the overhead roadway lights and some of the existing conduit and junction boxes. The majority of the electrical equipment on the bridge is used for controlling the vertical movement of the lift span and for stopping traffic during a bridge opening.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge, built in 1931, crosses the St. Croix River between Stillwater, Minnesota on the west and Houlton, Wisconsin on the east. The bridge carries Minnesota Highway 36 and Wisconsin Highway 64.

The historic lift bridge will close in early August following the opening of the new St. Croix River Crossing Bridge. It will reopen exclusively to cyclists and pedestrians in 2019 as part of a loop trail linking Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge operates on the following schedule during the summer months:

Weekdays: Every hour between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., every 30 minutes between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., at 4 p.m. and  5:30 p.m., and every 30 minutes between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Weekends, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day: At 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., every hour between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., and every half hour between 8 p.m. and midnight.