Stillwater announced plans for a couple of events to celebrate the closure of the Stillwater Lift Bridge to automobile traffic next month.
Immediately following the ribbon-cutting to open the new St. Croix River Crossing at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 2, Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski and city leaders will host a short public ceremony in Lowell Park to commemorate the lift bridge’s 86 years of service to the city and the region.
“We don’t know what time MnDOT will throw up the ‘Bridge Closed’ sign and do the permanent traffic shift, but we’ll be downtown celebrating until they do,” Kozlowski said in a news release. “This is a significant moment in the history of our town, and we know people are going to want to get together and be part of it. It’s going to be one of those events that you’ll tell your grandchildren you attended.”
City leaders will reconvene in south Lowell Park at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 2 for a public festival being called “Cruisin’ to Closure.”
Cruisin’ to Closure adds to the already-scheduled Cruisin’ on the Croix classic car show, to accommodate the large crowds expected to gather downtown for the final closure of the bridge to automobile traffic.
On Tuesday night, the Stillwater City Council also approved an event featuring a polka dance, food and a beer garden on Saturday, Aug. 12 to celebrate the Lift Bridge closure. The polka dance is a nod to the 1931 opening of the Stillwater Lift Bridge, and the popular polka dance that was part of Lumberjack Days.
The city will close Chestnut Street from Main Street to the Lift Bridge from 5-10 p.m. on Aug. 12 for the street dance. The adjacent parking lots will also be closed for food vendors and a beer garden.
The permanent preservation of the lift bridge was a main point for Stillwater advocates when designing the overall St. Croix River Crossing project.
After the lift bridge is rehabilitated, it will serve as a portion of a 5-mile long pedestrian loop trail between Minnesota and Wisconsin that includes the new St. Croix Crossing.
A dedicated fund set aside in State of Minnesota accounts will provide annual funds for the Lift Bridge’s continued operation.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is also planning an open house from 4-7 p.m., Thursday, July 20 at City Hall for the public to learn about plans to transform the Stillwater Lift Bridge use for bicycles and pedestrians.
The meeting also will detail plans to finish construction on a five-mile loop trail linking Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Project information will be on display and representatives from the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation will be available to answer questions.
For more project details or to sign up for email updates, please visit the Stillwater Lift Bridge website.
“When Governor Floyd B. Olson and the town fathers opened the lift bridge in 1931, they had no idea it would be in service for 86 years,” Kozlowski said. “Over its history, the lift bridge has become more than just another river crossing. It’s an iconic structure that has been a part of our lives for generations. We’re so excited to see that it will get a second life.”