Stillwater residents await opening of new St. Croix River bridge

Residents in Stillwater are counting down the days until their brand new bridge, spanning the St. Croix River opens up.

The new bridge will be quite the upgrade from the current lift bridge, which tends to get stuck every now and then.

“Oh everybody's very excited,” said Sue Nelson, a Stillwater resident.

In downtown Stillwater, where drink specials are set to commemorate the switch, the countdown is palpable.

“It's very shocking to see the sign out on the street that says bridge is going to be closed August 2,” said Nelson. “It's very shocking to see that. Shocking in a good way.”

All that traffic coming over the historic lift bridge is so close to being a thing of the past.

“Next week is when we get our town back,” said Stillwater Mayor Jeff Kozlowski. “When this bridge opens and the lift bridge closes for its rehabilitation and repurposing is really going to be a historic moment in Stillwater.”

On the new St. Croix River bridge the only work left is some a few odds and ends, such as installing some final lighting.

“Michele Bachmann and I worked on this together,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “She led the bill in the House, I led the bill in the Senate.”

Klobuchar came for a tour on three hours sleep. She had the early morning vote on healthcare in Washington D.C., but kept her appointment to see the bridge since she'll be back in D.C. during next Wednesday's ribbon cutting.

“I figure a lift bridge that was built 13 presidencies ago and not built for 18,000 cars a day, where we have citizens of Stillwater who drive over that bridge every day and cross their fingers,” said Klobuchar.

With the opening of the new bridge on August 2, the old lift bridge will close at the same time and get a two-year refurbishing. It will then reopen for bikes and pedestrians only.

“Everybody's very excited,” said Nelson. “Downtown's going to be a much nicer place to live and shop and work.”