A tunnel under the river?

Now that the river waters are getting closer to normal levels, it’s time for another bridge story.

The Star Tribune has a story tonight that “citizen interest in a tunnel to divert interstate traffic from Stillwater has resurfaced in recent months,” though the article doesn’t name or quotes any of said interested citizens. Mn/DOT, not surprisingly, is less keen on the idea.

The idea has been studied in the past, most recently in the 1990s, according to the newspaper. It concluded that a tunnel would cost significantly more than a bridge. At that time, tunnel locations were contemplated in Oak Park Heights, or near the end of Brown’s Creek at the junction of Highways 95 and 96. The study noted that a tunnel in the northern location would have severe impacts on Brown’s Creek and the surrounding valley.

It’s probably safe to call that an understatement. I had forgotten about that particular location idea. Here’s a Bird’s Eye Bing map of the east end of Brown’s Creek. Before the two highways were built in the early 20th century, the area was a popular picnic destination for Stillwater residents. It may see greater public access once again if the Minnesota DNR completes its planned purchase of the Minnesota Zephyr train line for use as a trail.

In any event, with the current challenging economy, it’s hard for me to see a tunnel — at Brown’s Creek or anywhere — getting much serious consideration.

Now that the flooding is over, I intent to continue blogging about the St. Croix river throughout the year. Right now, I’m just counting down the days until the waters return to enjoyable boating levels. If the current forecast holds, we should drop below 83′ by next weekend, ending the high-water no wake rules.

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3 Responses to A tunnel under the river?

  1. Greg says:

    That’s really annoying that he doesn’t quote a single person actually advocating for a tunnel. I can’t believe his editors let him get away with that.

  2. Jeff Gramenz says:

    MnDOT looked at the tunnel option when they began the current round of investigating the traffic problem. It was outlandishly expensive, and the amount of environmental damage was amazing (all that muck and sandstone has to go somewhere). It wasn’t practical then, and it isn’t practical now. Why can’t they just accept that MnDOT studied this in detail and determined that the proposed bridge, in the place that they want to put it, is the best option available, including the “no-build” option.

  3. Boyd says:

    How about a ramp jump over the river just like what Hot Wheels sells? People might pay to cross it that way.

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