Hudson town board passes bridge resolution
The town of Hudson board heard a resolution Tuesday, March 1, to support construction of a new bridge over the St. Croix River to replace the structurally deficient and obsolete lift bridge that is currently running between Houlton and Stillwater.
The ailing lift bridge has been the subject of intense debate, and plans for the construction of a replacement bridge have been stuck in legal limbo for the better part of two decades, partly because of lawsuits brought forth by groups such as the Sierra Club that oppose the construction of a new bridge. They claim a new bridge would violate the National Park Service's designation of a wild and scenic river, a designation that was given in 1976. The process was also brought to a standstill last fall when the National Park Service reversed an earlier decision to approve the bridge.
Proponents of the bridge, however, argue that the bridge is simply becoming dangerous, adding that the structural rating of the bridge is worse than that of the Hwy. 35W bridge that collapsed over the Mississippi River in 2007. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who represents the 6th District in which the current bridge resides, introduced legislation late last month that would allow construction of the new bridge, and bring an end to the decades-old stalemate, before costs rise even more. The bill also received bi-partisan support from two Wisconsin Representatives, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI,) who represents northwestern Wisconsin, and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI,) who represents southwest Wisconsin.
The resolution is an attempt to get Congress to approve the structure and bypass the normal bridge approval process. The town board ultimately voted to voice its support for the replacement of the bridge, in a 4-1 vote.