The Wisconsin State Legislature
The Minnesota State Legislature
November 8, 2011Dear Members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin Congressional Delegations,
We are writing to express our strong opposition to H.R. 850 (Bachmann) that clears the way forconstruction of a bridge between Stillwater, Minnesota and the area north of Hudson, Wisconsin.The bridge could cost almost $700 million. As things currently stand, Minnesota will be forcedto divert $160 million of its federal allocation and up to $220 million of state highway and bridgefunding. Wisconsin will also need to utilize general fund resources, competing directly witheducation, healthcare and other priorities and has yet to identify the source of additional fundsneeded to cover the difference between its presently authorized funds and the minimumestimated amount of its share of the bridge. As legislators on both sides of the St. Croix River weare united in our concerns that the current design of the bridge is far too expensive, particularlyin light of much more cost-effective alternatives. In choosing the most expensive option, H.R.
850 further constrains our states’ already limited resources fo
r critical bridge repairs and roadsafety projects.The bridge envisioned in H.R. 850 is just six miles north of the existing eight lane Interstate 94bridge connecting Afton, Minnesota and Hudson, Wisconsin. Much more fiscally responsiblealternative designs exist, and those savings could be invested in the many road and bridge safetyimprovement projects languishing all across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Furthermore, thealternative plan significantly reduces noise and air pollution and protects the environmental andrecreational integrity of the Lower St. Croix River.
National organizations including Taxpayers for Common Sense have stated their opposition tothe interstate-style bridge design that is earmarked in H.R. 850.
The I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis shocked our region and our nation into taking thesafety of our bridges and condition of our transportation infrastructure seriously. A recent study,
issued by Transportation for America titled “The Fix We’re In For: The State of the Nation’sBridges” shows there are more than 1,142 deficient bridges in Wisconsin, 8.2% of the state’s
bridges, carrying almost 3.5 million people per day. According to the study there are 1,149, or8.8% of bridges, that are deficient in Minnesota.