July 22, 2017 12:08 AM
The Stillwater Lift Bridge will soon close to vehicle traffic for good after the nearby Saint Croix River Crossing opens up in less than two weeks.
However, there are plans to keep the historic lift bridge around for years to come, and that has many businesses eager.
"Stillwater is kind of a hidden gem in the Twin Cities area," said Nate Hanson, a server at Leo's Grill and Malt Shop.
With a prime location, Hanson said Stillwater can get a little crazy.
"The whole area is just super congested trying to get over this bridge," Hanson said. "During rush hour it's pretty gnarly."
It's the Stillwater Lift Bridge that forces nearly 18,000 vehicles a day through downtown and across the Wisconsin border. Often times, it forces everyone to put on the brakes.
"Yeah it can get pretty miserable," Hanson said.
Soon he historic lift bridge will transform into a new pedestrian bicycle bridge.
"It definitely will ease congestion," Kent Barnard, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said. "There were a lot of vocal citizens that wanted to make sure this bridge was preserved in some form or another."
Barnard stresses MnDOT needs to make improvements if it's expected to be open for decades to come.
"There is some decay, and obviously, with an 86 year old structure we want to make sure we put the bridge back into good condition," Barnard said.
Once the bridge is outfitted for pedestrians and cyclists, it will also become part of a 5 mile loop trail connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"I think it will make it a lot more pleasurable to be walking around and browsing stores," Hanson said.
Like the bridge, businesses downtown all have their own place in Stillwater history. And many hope restoring the landmark will benefit everyone.
"People built their lives off of these businesses," Hanson said. "Hopefully it will be great for the downtown economy."
The transformation of the Stillwater Lift Bridge will take two years. That includes upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and structural aspects of the bridge.
Updated: July 22, 2017 12:08 AM
Created: July 21, 2017 03:33 PM
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