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Friday, March 19, 2010

Who Needs A Scenic River When There’s A Bridge To Build?

There’s a bridge to somewhere that nobody wants on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, but there’s congresswoman who won’t let a mere federally protected river get in the way of a new bridge.

This story reminds Rat of the “bridge to nowhere” made infamous during the 2008 presidential campaign. A multi-million dollar bridge from the mainland to a barely inhabited island in Alaska, it became a symbol of government waste and pork. There was no small irony in that pork chop, in that Republican presidential candidate John McCain railed against such projects, and the Alaska porkchop/bridge was built with the blessing of his running-mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Rep. Michele Bachman of Minnesota is angry that a judge ruled against the construction of a new bridge over the St. Croix River at Stillwater. The St. Croix was among the first rivers to get a federal designation as wild and scenic in 1968. No matter, says Bachmann: the bridge must be built, and if the federal Wild and Scenic River designation is in the way, damn the designation: simply un-designate the river and build the bridge.

This is not Bachmann’s first toe-dip into controversy. She accused candidate Obama of being anti-American and recently claimed that the current health care reform proposal would allow a 13-year old to go to school, get an abortion at Planned Parenthood, and be home on the bus the same day.

Bachman’s bridge over the River Croix – opposed for over 20 years now, mostly because people fear it would metastasize exurban sprawl – is not likely to get built. There’s worse news for the scenic Lower St. Croix: after another dragged-out legal battle, a Twin Cities media tycoon got a green light from the Minnesota Supreme Court to build a small castle on a bluff of the river. River rats fond of the St. Croix fear the ruling will grease the skids for building more castles and change the scenery of the scenic Lower St. Croix forever.

Who needs a bridge when you can sue your way to the Supreme Court to get permission to build a house in a federal scenic riverway?


  1. Tell the National Park Service to keep the St. Croix River Wild and Scenic and to oppose the bridge to nowhere!

  2. Thanks to River Rat for raising the alarm about the threats looming over the St Croix Natl Scenic River, a legacy of Senators Gaylord Nelson and Walter Mondale, one of our first national wild and scenic rivers. The monster bridge, just north of the I-94 crossing at Hudson WI, is planned to be a massive mile long freeway style $668 million mega-bridge, pushing sprawl into western wisconsin, destroying farms and wildlfe habitat, threatening the river's scenic values and water quality (recently declared impaired), and increasing traffic, green house gases, and climate change impacts.