FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2012
On Thursday the U.S. House passed a bill to exempt the currently proposed, massive St. Croix Crossing project from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.“This bill sets a dangerous precedent for over 200 Wild and Scenic Rivers across the nation – to push through the most expensive bridge in state history,” said Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “It is disappointing that Representative Bachmann, a self-proclaimed fiscal hawk, would continue to push for such a fiscally irresponsible bridge in the face of current budgetary realities.” The federal money for the project will come out of Minnesota’s share of highway funds. Already, Mn/DOT projects a $270 million annual repair and maintenance shortfall in coming years. The shortfall is projected at $50 billion for the next 20 years. “The St. Croix was designated one of the eight original National Scenic Riverways because it is a natural treasure. It is possible and necessary to balance development pressures with preserving the high quality features that draw residents to the St. Croix Valley, and continue to protect one of the country’s most endangered rivers,” said Carol Hardin, Chair of the St. Croix Valley Sierra Club. “A new crossing that is less intrusive would provide local jobs and save taxpayer dollars to repair Minnesota’s 1,100 bridges in need of repair.” In November 2011, 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. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter will continue to work for a smaller Stillwater Bridge replacement that does not violate the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, and which can be constructed at a cost far less than $690 million.