Tolls proposed to help fund new St. Croix River bridge

Bridge to never?
This undated artist rendering released by the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows an aerial view looking west that shows the proposed St. Croix River Crossing between Oak Park Heights, Minn., and St. Joseph, Wis.
AP Photo/Minnesota Department of Transportation

Minnesota transportation officials say tolls could pay nearly half the cost of a new St. Croix River crossing near Stillwater.

Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Brad Larsen says a MnDOT study shows a $1.50 toll each way would, over time, raise nearly half the cost of a new $642 million St. Croix River bridge.

Larsen says a tolling plan would need clearance at both the federal and state level.

"You'd have to enable tolling with a change in federal law, and then you'd also have to get legislation enabling a tolling approach from both the Minnesota and Wisconsin legislatures," he said.

Whether a new bridge can even be built is unclear at this point, because the National Park Service determined last year that the current proposal would violate rules that control development along the St. Croix River, which is federally protected as a Wild and Scenic River.

The existing two-lane bridge, which crosses the river in downtown Stillwater, is nearing the end of its useful lifespan, and is considered a source of traffic congestion and an impediment to development.

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