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Stillwater bridge project clears House of Representatives committee

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Hudson Star Observer
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The Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill authorizing construction of a new St. Croix River bridge near Stillwater, according to a news release from U.S. Rep Ron Kind's office.

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The La Crosse Democrat's office said the vote allows the bill (H.R. 850) to go to the House floor for a vote. The committee approved it with bipartisan support.

Kind has been a member of the Natural Resources Committee for 14 years.

"I am pleased that the committee was able to pass the legislation to authorize the St. Croix River Crossing project. This is an important step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done," Kind is quoted as saying in the news release.

He said he would continue working closely with senators Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, all Democrats, and his colleagues in the House to move the project forward.

"I am optimistic that with the strong support we have back home, from both Gov. Walker and Gov. Dayton, as well as the support of a bipartisan congressional delegation and a great group of local leaders in the area, we can get this project across the finish line," Kind is quoted as saying.

The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing, a lobbying group pressing for approval of the proposed bridge, also said in a news release that it was pleased with the committee's action.

The coalition thanked Kind, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, and Minnesota representatives Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, and Chip Cravaak, R-Lindstrom, for their support of the bill.

The coalition said the House and Senate now have the same language in their bills for exempting the St. Croix River Crossing from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

"This is another important step forward for our region. The St. Croix River Crossing has strong and unified support from both Minnesota and Wisconsin federal lawmakers, as well as support from other members of Congress who are taking our region's request for a new bridge seriously," the coalition's news release said.

It was issued by Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki and retired banker John Soderberg of New Richmond, co-chairs of the coalition.

Marycki and Soderberg said recent developments with the Stillwater Lift Bridge show a need to work quickly to secure approval for the project.

"New weight restrictions were placed on the bridge, and the traffic gridlock is only getting worse," the news release says.

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