The Stillwater Lift Bridge will close to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic starting at midnight on Monday, Sept. 10.
The closure will impact boaters, too.
Starting Oct. 15 the lift span the bridge will only be raised on three Sundays—Oct. 21, 28 and Nov. 4, Cara Chandler, a spokesperson for MnDOT said. Other than those three dates, the span will not open until the project is complete.
The bridge is expected to reopen to traffic in late-December, weather permitting.
How will the closure impact you? As a shopper, will it change your holiday shopping plans? As a driver does it make life easier, or put a wrench in your plans? As a shop owner, do you expect the closure will help or hurt your business during the fall and holiday seasons?
Boon or Bust?
The closure of the Stillwater Lift Bridge impacts different parts of the St. Croix River Valley in different ways.
Many business owners in downtown Stillwater have repeatedly said when the Lift Bridge is closed—and traffic congestion is removed—local commerce improves.
That's not the case across the river in Hudson. When the lift bridge is shut down, downtown Hudson becomes a snarled mess of traffic. Some business owners say the additional traffic makes it a hassle for local regulars to get in and out of downtown, and as a result, those businesses miss out on revenue they count on, especially during the holiday season.
Tim McDonald, the store manager at Lowe’s, told the Oak Park Heights City Council he will have to lay off 10 percent of the workforce when the Stillwater Lift Bridge closes.
Another manager of a big box retailer located off of Highway 36, Scott Friday of Walmart, said the Oak Park Heights location loses an average of 10 to 15 percent in sales when the lift bridge closes.
In Hudson, the city's Public Safety Committe and Public Works Committee are both looking for creative ways to ease traffic flow downtown. While the common practice is to change the timing of the traffic lights to stay green longer for north-south traffic, officials admit it could cause problems at the already busy Coulee Road and Vine Street intersections.
The city is asking motorists bound for Somerset, New Richmond and beyond to take Exit 4 instead of Exit 1, and take County Road I to Somerset and County Road A to New Richmond.
According to MnDOT, the Stillwater Lift Bridge “Stabilization Project is needed to maintain a safe crossing and to preserve the bridge until it can be converted to a bike and pedestrian facility in 2017.
The $3.4 million project will include the repair of the historic bridge's steel, concrete, electrical and mechanical components. Crews are also repairing the guardrail and curb, replacing the gutter and painting at repair locations.