Sierra Club Responds to Senate Passage of Bill to Weaken River Protections, Build Most Expensive Bridge in State History

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SIERRA CLUB RESPONDS TO SENATE PASSAGE OF BILL TO WEAKEN RIVER PROTECTIONS, BUILD MOST EXPENSIVE BRIDGE IN STATE HISTORY

On Monday night, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to exempt the currently proposed, massive St. Croix Crossing project from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. “This bill would gut the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – to push through a massive and costly new bridge,” said Jim Rickard, Sierra Club St. Croix Valley group spokesperson. “The Sierra Club supports a new crossing that is less intrusive to the river, and will meet residents’ needs, provide local jobs, and save taxpayer dollars to be spent for other transportation priorities.”

In November, an independent study showed that the smaller design supported by the Sensible Stillwater Bridge coalition would cost about $394 million — 57 percent of the price tag of the freeway-style bridge specifically exempted from review in the current legislation.

Minnesota already has more than 1,100 structurally deficient bridges across the state, but Mn/DOT is already projecting a $270 million annual repair and maintenance shortfall in coming years.

“We urge officials to reconsider the cost and scale of the current $690 million proposed design, which if built, would break the record for the most expensive bridge in Minnesota,” said Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “Instead, we call for a balanced and reasonable solution that will better protect the river and communities statewide.”

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