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Federal lawsuit to stop Stillwater bridge project thrown out

A federal lawsuit to stop progress on the new St. Croix River Crossing project, brought by construction company C.S. McCrossan, has been thrown out of U.S. District Court.

McCrossan was the unsuccessful bidder for approach work to be done on the Minnesota side of the river. The company's bid was the lowest submitted, but apparently lacked the necessary guarantees that a certain amount of the work would be given to minority-owned subcontractors.

Ames Construction and Lunda Construction were then awarded the contract by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In filing the suit, McCrossan claimed it was unfairly removed from the roadwork project and that it should be hired for the project.

On Monday, a judge denied the company's request, noting that the challenge was not likely to be successful. MnDOT officials had argued that any further delays in the project could cost taxpayers millions.

According to John Soderberg, New Richmond, co-chairman of the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing, said he was pleased with the week's news. The coalition is a non-profit group that has been advocating for approval and construction of the new bridge.

"I'm just elated," he said.

Despite the bridge being approved, Soderberg said it's important that the coalition to stay active. One never knows where a legal challenge may come from, he added.

"The coalition is still in effect," he said. "We have to be prepared for stuff like this."

In other bridge project news, work on the Minnesota side was temporarily stalled last week when invasive zebra mussels were found on a barge that was to be launched in the St. Croix River. Contractors are at work decontaminating the equipment.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, crews continue to build a construction staging area on the Minnesota banks of the St. Croix River for the bridge foundations work. They are building a dock wall to support equipment and material access, as well as installing steel sheet piling to provide docking facilities for the barges.

Cranes and barges are now being mobilized to the project site.

Next week, advance work begins in preparation for road reconstruction of Minnesota Hwy. 36 and Hwy. 95. Work involves clearing trees and vegetation and removing pavement from the "Village Neighborhood" area located in Oak Park Heights between Hwy. 36, Beach Road, and Hwy. 95 for the future alignment of Hwy. 95.

Work to clear this area will continue for approximately two weeks; however, it will remain an active construction zone through the end of the year.

Also beginning next week, crews will be taking soils samples in the median of Hwy. 36, and preconstruction surveys for buildings adjacent to Hwy. 36 and Hwy. 95 will begin and will be ongoing throughout the project.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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