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U.S. House expected to vote this morning on Stillwater bridge project

The U.S. House of Representative will vote Thursday on a bill to authorize the long-debated four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River near Stillwater, Minn.

The leading opponent, Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum, concedes there's enough support to pass it.

Because the bill is being expedited, a two-thirds majority is required. McCollum says the chief sponsor, Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, did her homework and rounded up the votes for it.

The project has been debated on various fronts for a half century. It was the House's turn to debate the bridge last night.

New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt called the $690 million project "far too expensive."

Republican Sean Duffy from the Wausau area said it's gotten broad support from both people in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. He said two governors, a Republican and Democrat, support the bridge.

Duffy said many House progressives and conservatives agree on the new bridge - and so do Packers and Vikings fans, which he called "remarkable."

The National Park Service has said the bridge would violate the St. Croix's protections under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Senate voted in January to overrule that decision.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called for a House vote by March 15, or else he would the move his state's funding for the bridge to other highway projects.