Bachmann plans to continue bridge work

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says she will continue efforts to build a new bridge linking Minnesota and Wisconsin even though newly drawn congressional districts mean she would no longer represent the area where the bridge would be built.

“I have committed to building this bridge,” Bachmann said in an interview.

On Tuesday, a Minnesota judicial panel released new legislative and congressional maps that removed much of Bachmann’s Washington County territory effective early next year. The new district lines left her home out of her old district, which is near Stillwater, but the Republican said she plans to seek re-election in her old district anyway.

If re-elected, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a St. Paul Democrat, would represent the Stillwater area where the bridge would be built to replace an aging St. Croix River lift bridge.

McCollum opposes the bridge that Bachmann and governors of the two states want built.

Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to Bachmann, and later met with her, saying that the U.S. House needs to approve the bridge by March 15 or the state will need to move money saved for it to other projects.

The U.S. Senate passed the legislation last month, but it awaits action by the full House.

Bachmann said the bridge bill sits in the House transportation committee, which has placed a priority on passing an overall funding bill.

“This is also a high priority,” Bachmann said, but she could not predict when the measure may get out of the transportation committee and receive a House vote.

She downplayed the March 15 deadline.

“We will work together on timelines and dates,” Bachmann said.

McCollum has said she does not think Dayton’s deadline can be met.

Dayton’s letter indicates that work on the bridge must begin by March 15 or the money will be used for other Minnesota transportation needs. If the deadline is missed, he said, bridge money will not be available “for the foreseeable future.”

Another proposal would erect a smaller and cheaper bridge close to the existing lift bridge, a plan supported by people who think the four-lane structure is too big and would hurt the area’s environment.

The four-lane bridge could cost up to $690 million, with money from both states.

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