August 02, 2017 10:30 AM
The long-anticipated opening of the St. Croix River Crossing bridge is finally here.
Wednesday, officials from Minnesota and Wisconsin will officially open the more than $600 million bridge.
MnDOT officials say the day of celebration is expected to draw crowds and leaders including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
The bridge, connecting Oak Park Heights to St. Joseph in Wisconsin is a mile-long, $650 million project that's taken three years to build.
The bridge was supposed to be done in 2016, but MnDOT and WisDOT pushed the opening date back twice.
The complexity of the project and bad weather were among the reasons for a delayed opening.
MnDOT officials say the new crossing will provide a larger route between the states and will ease congestion in downtown Stillwater.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who helped approve the massive structure, says the bridge has been a long time coming.
However, not everyone is celebrating. Some people that live in a small town in Wisconsin say they're concerned about increased noise in the community.
"It will be interesting to see how loud it actually gets," Caroline Anderson, of Houlton, Wisconsin, said.
The dedication ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday. MnDOT officials say no public parking will be available at the dedication site. There will shuttles at the event location from the Wisconsin side at 8 a.m. and from the Minnesota side at 8:30 a.m.
Here is a timeline of events in the project's construction process:
December 2014: Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation approve a $332.5 million contract with the Lunda/Ames Joint Venture to build the St. Croix Crossing superstructure.
March 2014: Bridge work underwater completed, crews begin work on overpass to connect to St. Croix Crossing Bridge.
May 2014: Paddleboat tours of the project linking Minnesota and Wisconsin launch, crews begin work on 10th pier of the bridge. Five of the piers are now built to full height.
September 2014: All piers are constructed, crossbeam construction at three of five pier locations continues. New estimates put project cost between $580 million and $646 million.
April 2015: Construction on the St. Croix Crossing begins again, with crews installing pier 8 through 10 supports.
May 2015: Crews begin installing flat concrete segments between piers; 650 of the segments will make up the bridge's driving surface.
July 2015: Crews finish first pier tower, at pier 8.
September 2015: Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation announce project delay, stating bridge will open in early to mid 2017 instead of fall of 2016. MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said methods of construction were taking longer than expected.
December 2015: Crews continue work at piers 10 and 11.
April 2016: Deck segments placed at various points in the construction project: of 29 segments, the 18th in the bridge deck construction sequence is placed at Pier 8, the 17th segment at Pier 9, the first eastbound and westbound segments at both Piers 10 and 11, and the third and fourth segments in the bridge deck construction sequence at Pier 12. New cranes are introduced to speed up the process.
June 2016: MnDOT amends lease for Stillwater office space through June 2018 as a "buffer" against any more delays in the bridge's targeted fall 2017 completion.
August 2016: Work stalls as the result of a lack of equipment needed to tighten the bridge's support cables. Work resumes at the end of the month after a solution is found.
October 2016: A piece of history is made when MnDOT connects the new St. Croix Crossing bridge over the middle of the St. Croix River.
February 2017: Crews complete the final closure pour on the St. Croix Crossing bridge.
August 2017: Bridge opens to the public.
Rebecca Omastiak & Cleo Greene
Updated: August 02, 2017 10:30 AM
Created: August 02, 2017 05:20 AM
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