as introduced - 80th Legislature (1997 - 1998) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A resolution 1.2 to preserve funding and facilitate mediation for an 1.3 improved St. Croix River crossing. 1.4 1.5 WHEREAS, the St. Croix River has been designated a 1.6 nationally significant river and protected waterway under the 1.7 federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the Minnesota Scenic 1.8 Rivers Act; and 1.9 WHEREAS, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has 1.10 proposed constructing a new St. Croix River crossing near 1.11 Stillwater; and 1.12 WHEREAS, litigation has commenced which raises objections 1.13 to the proposed bridge for failing to protect the river, for 1.14 creating additional bridge structures in the scenic riverway, 1.15 and for failing to adequately consider suitable and less 1.16 expensive alternative locations for construction of the new 1.17 bridge; and 1.18 WHEREAS, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is 1.19 challenging in federal court the application of the Wild and 1.20 Scenic Rivers Act to the new St. Croix River crossing; and 1.21 WHEREAS, proponents of the bridge are lobbying Congress to 1.22 exempt the new St. Croix River crossing from the Wild and Scenic 1.23 Rivers Act; and 1.24 WHEREAS, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has 2.1 alleged that funding for the bridge will be lost if the project 2.2 is delayed; and 2.3 WHEREAS, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has 2.4 issued a permit for the new St. Croix River crossing which 2.5 requires removal of the old Stillwater bridge within ten years 2.6 of completion of construction of the new bridge; and 2.7 WHEREAS, the Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission, 2.8 by letter of February 5, 1987, put the Minnesota Department of 2.9 Transportation on notice that the National Park Service had veto 2.10 authority by virtue of section 7(a) of the Wild and Scenic 2.11 Rivers Act over any new St. Croix River crossing; and 2.12 WHEREAS, the Department of the Interior's Acting Regional 2.13 Director William Schenk, by letter dated May 22, 1987, put the 2.14 Federal Highway Administration on notice that any new St. Croix 2.15 River crossing project would be subject to section 7(a) of the 2.16 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; and 2.17 WHEREAS, the Department of the Interior by letter of July 2.18 10, 1990, offered to work closely with the Federal Highway 2.19 Administration to design and determine a specific location to 2.20 make a bridge compatible with Lower St. Croix values; and 2.21 WHEREAS, the National Park Service has issued a 70-page 2.22 report finding that the proposed location of a new St. Croix 2.23 River crossing will have a direct and adverse impact on the 2.24 values for which the St. Croix River was designated a Wild and 2.25 Scenic River; and 2.26 WHEREAS, the Secretary of the Interior, acting under 2.27 section 7(a) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, has requested 2.28 that no federal permits be issued for the proposed St. Croix 2.29 River crossing because of the adverse impact determination; and 2.30 WHEREAS, the Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission 2.31 has consistently supported a different location for the new St. 2.32 Croix River crossing which would be less harmful to the St. 2.33 Croix River and called for alternative dispute resolution on 2.34 February 13, 1997; and 2.35 WHEREAS, the Green Scissors 1997 report, sponsored by a 2.36 coalition of taxpayers and environmental groups, has listed the 3.1 proposed bridge crossing as one of 57 national projects which 3.2 are most harmful to the environment and wasteful of taxpayer 3.3 dollars; and 3.4 WHEREAS, the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 3.5 proposed new St. Croix River crossing has a total estimated cost 3.6 of $100 million, while five miles down the river in Hudson, a 3.7 new four lane I-94 bridge was constructed in 1996 for $28 3.8 million; and 3.9 WHEREAS, since the first Stillwater bridge was built in 3.10 1876, the traffic has reached 16,000 vehicles per day, while the 3.11 Minnesota Department of Transportation has projected that the 3.12 proposed freeway-style bridge will see traffic increase to 3.13 41,000 vehicles per day in 20 years; and 3.14 WHEREAS, the main effect of a four-lane freeway-style 3.15 bridge will not be to solve local transportation needs, but to 3.16 accelerate urban sprawl, tourism, and relocation of Minnesota 3.17 businesses and jobs to western Wisconsin; and 3.18 WHEREAS, virtually all interested parties believe that an 3.19 improved river crossing is needed to solve the local 3.20 transportation problem; and 3.21 WHEREAS, a call for federal mediation has been made to see 3.22 if a consensus can be reached among the interested parties 3.23 regarding an improved river crossing; and 3.24 WHEREAS, it is the public policy of the Minnesota judicial 3.25 system to encourage alternative dispute resolution; and 3.26 WHEREAS, it is not in the public interest to encourage 3.27 protracted and costly litigation; and 3.28 WHEREAS, it is in the public interest to promote 3.29 transportation projects that are cost effective, environmentally 3.30 sensitive, and represent the consensus of the local communities; 3.31 NOW, THEREFORE, 3.32 BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnesota Legislature supports the 3.33 continued protection of the St. Croix River under the current 3.34 provisions of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; and 3.35 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Minnesota Legislature 3.36 strongly recommends that the Minnesota Department of 4.1 Transportation and all interested parties participate in 4.2 mediation to reach a consensus on an improved St. Croix River 4.3 crossing. 4.4 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Minnesota Legislature 4.5 strongly recommends that the Minnesota Department of 4.6 Transportation and the Transportation Advisory Board preserve 4.7 the funding priority for an improved St. Croix River crossing 4.8 pending outcome of mediation. 4.9 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of State of the 4.10 State of Minnesota is directed to prepare copies of this 4.11 memorial and transmit them to the United States Department of 4.12 Transportation and Interior, the Minnesota Transportation and 4.13 Department of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Council, the 4.14 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin's Senators and 4.15 Representatives in Congress, and Minnesota's Senators and 4.16 Representatives in Congress.