An attempt to keep big trucks off an older bridge has been accomplished without directly banning them from the span.
Sponsored by Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) and Sen. Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake), the law prohibits motor vehicle combinations longer than 55 feet from using Highway 36 between Highway 95 and the Stillwater Lift Bridge.
Emergency vehicles, vehicles needed for work on the section of highway or the bridge and vehicles carrying an oversize permit are exempt from the law that takes effect the day signs are erected giving notice of the prohibition.
City officials initially wanted a weight restriction on the 1,000-foot long bridge, but the change was made just for a highway designation so as not to set a precedent for other bridges. However, the law will likely keep dangerous trucks out of historic downtown Stillwater. A saturation study found that many of the large, over-the-road trucks stopped by law enforcement personnel had major safety violations, and some were pulled from the road. Supporters said trucks are often driven through Stillwater to avoid an inspection station on Interstate 94.
A 2008 Department of Transportation review found the bridge to be fracture-critical. A new span over the St. Croix River is expected to be open by 2016.
The law states that by July 1, 2009, signs are to be erected “at appropriate locations” giving notice of the restriction. It will be requested that Wisconsin officials do the same on their side of the river. This section is effective May 22, 2009.
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