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Countdown to the Stillwater Lift Bridge Closure

Will the four-month lift bridge closure be good for businesses in Stillwater? Will it be bad for businesses in Hudson?

The 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 , 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, . 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.

Earlier this month in to move forward with the St. Croix River Crossing Project:

Tim McDonald, the store manager at , 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 , 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.

Susan August 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I will enjoy a quiet downtown, and I will visit the downtown businesses more frequently. It is unfortunate for the businesses on 36, but this has been on the calendar for a while, so at least they can plan for it, instead of having something like a flood shut it down. It will be bad for downtown Hudson (we certainly know your pain), but hopefully many in Somerset and New Richmond can use Hwys I and A to get to I94, instead of 35.
Frazzle August 22, 2012 at 02:02 AM
It will be horrible for Hudson. Hopefully folks will take Exit 4 and get to their locations through that route.
ThingsThatMakeYouGo-Hmmmm August 22, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Has anyone considered adding an alternative form of transportation to alleviate the congestion and the lengthy commute for us all....such as a specific bus route to run from Stillwater to Hudson and back during peak times? Just wondering... It will be difficult for us all.
TP Jr August 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM
No, don't encourage motorists to take Exit 4. It's already congested enough! The county should plan for extra patrol (eventhough it won't happen) for Hwy 12, and as it turns into Cty Rd A into Burkhardt. The speed limit is 50 then 45 respectively and no one ever goes the posted speed. They go way over. It gets worse on Cty Rd I as the posted limit is 40, and I would bet people drive 50-55mph minimum. All of this will a nightmare until the new bridge is complete. 20yrs overdue.
Carbon Bigfuut August 22, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Right on, TP. And very few obey the 25 mph limit in Burkhardt, or the 35 limit in Boardman. I'm also hoping to extra patrols along that route.
Hobbs August 22, 2012 at 06:05 PM
The closure will give everyone a taste of what it will be like when the old bridge fails permanently and a new river crossing is not built.... This isn't the first time the bridge closed indefinitely. Remember a couple years back, a too-tall truck tried to cross and smashed the bridge? That one shut it down for a few weeks.
Carbon Bigfuut August 22, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Outside of Wal-Mart, Target, and a few gas stations, I doubt that many businesses will feel the change. There were a few Stillwater businesses 20 years ago that thought that by NOT building the new bridge they could "trap" people into shopping downtown, I think those people are long gone now.
limeex2 August 22, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Last time the bridge closed, Stillwater was they way it was when I grew up here. Safe to cross the street. Quieter and less traffic at all times, especially rush hour. More locals went downtown. 36 will not experience a business loss. Exit 4 and Hudson will experience more traffic, the same traffic that gets funneled through an already congested downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. If people think that 36 business owners will get shorted, how about Hudson business? Will they experience an upsurge?
Randy Marsh August 22, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Try to keep up, will you Mitch.
Randy Marsh August 22, 2012 at 09:26 PM
You are so completely uninformed if you don't think several of the Hwy. 36 businesses aren't hit hard by the bridge being closed. Walmart, Target, Cub, Menards and the rest see a big drop.
mainstreet August 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM
There won't be any extra revenue here. I can tell you for a fact downtown loses business when the bridge is closed. Has happened every time in the past.
Shawn Hogendorf August 22, 2012 at 10:51 PM
To back what Randy said here, Tim McDonald, the store manager at Lowe’s,said he will have to lay off 10 percent of the workforce when the Stillwater Lift Bridge closes. A Walmart manager said he expects to lose an average of 10 to 15 percent in sales when the lift bridge closes. I'm guessing Maplewood Mall would even feel the hit.
Dean August 22, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Growing pains! More business here, less there, WI/MN where does it end? There are businesses on both sides of the river who will suffer loss, and gain. The overall economic benefit of a new bridge, for both states will be very positive. It will also change the norm. Senic views will change, corridors of commerce will follow their consumers, commuters will clock less time and more miles, and some individuals will lose their standing, the stuff of our very strength as a world economic power will repeat itself 'in our valley'. Each of us gets to feel and act on it the way we see fit. Some suffer and some benefit. Bear in mind the relavence of any impact this bridge will have on the economy of our valley pales in comparison to the damage being perpetrated on us by our Federal Government's inability to deal with our tailspinning debt. A myopic perspective on any point is just, well...
Susan August 23, 2012 at 01:25 AM
CB, having grown up out there, I am very familiar with the area. If there were enough enforcement of the speed limits, would you then be okay with traffic going that way?
Carbon Bigfuut August 23, 2012 at 05:00 PM
These roads are public, county-owned roads, so everybody has the right to use them. They don't have the right to drive them dangerously (speeding, etc.), or to try to intimidate (tailgating) others using those roads, just because their "normal" route is closed. Yes, Susan, there needs to be much stricter enforcement during this period.
Susan August 23, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I agree with you, I was just wondering if there was an issue with this route that I was not aware of.
Susan August 24, 2012 at 08:48 PM
CB, you may be happy to know that I went through Burkhardt about an hour ago, and there was a Sheriff's deputy going through town in the other direction. On another note, may I please ask that those traveling across the Stillwater bridge, not stop at the end of the bridge to wait for traffic to clear. Yes, this happened today. Apparently people are so afraid the bridge is going to collapse, that they stop and wait (at 3pm on a Friday afternoon), until the bridge is clear, and then quickly cross. There were many angry drivers behind this nitwit - I think if the bridge had gone up while we were waiting (and we could have easily been past the lift), several drivers behind me would have had a chat with this woman.
SN September 10, 2012 at 05:17 AM
My normal route is County Rd A to New Richmond. I agree with the earlier comments, extra patrols would help, it's not the greatest with normal levels of traffic.
Jim Bob September 10, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I ran into congestion in Burkhardt. Traffic was slow going and stopping, because of school buses. Such is life... What I did notice was the Willow River Inn was open well before 7 AM. I looks like a good place to wait out the traffic. Now if I can talk me boss into stopping there and holding our morning meeting, we can leverage a bad situation.
SAM September 10, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Think about the school bus drivers trying to get their students to school on time! Not sure how this is going to work out. Hope everyone is prepared--
Carbon Bigfuut September 10, 2012 at 11:11 PM
That school bus stop right on the corner in Burkhardt is going to be a hot spot for cars to try to pass the bus while it's stopped. Tempers will be running hot enough when drivers are stuck behind the bus at each stop.
Bob Simmons October 29, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Who is going to pay for all the deteriorating roads on 35 and Main Street as a result of the continuous overflow of traffic in Hudson? When will that project start? The amount of vehicles is a nightmare, kids are not safe crossing the streets! I guess we just wait until someone is killed.

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