October 21, 2010 at 8:09 a.m.

Whether for commuting ease, safer travel or transporting goods, all celebrated new bridge

Whether for commuting ease, safer travel or transporting goods, all celebrated new bridge
Whether for commuting ease, safer travel or transporting goods, all celebrated new bridge

There's one less functionally obsolete bridge in the State of Minnesota. The new #95 bridge over I-35 in North Branch was officially christened with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, Oct. 16, featuring a crowd of federal, state and local dignitaries and citizens.

There were lots of people to thank, those who have been involved in this project over the approximately 10 years it's been on the radar screen. Three county engineers: Mic Dahlberg, Bill Malin and Joe Triplett have served. Mayors Gloria Karsky and Amy Oehlers have led North Branch's efforts to replace this structure. Two political parties have been in the majority in D.C.

The one consistent in this whole process-- Congressman Jim Oberstar-- spoke of the $35 million in recent federal spending in Chisago County on road and bridge projects. When combined with the TEA 21 Act that funded about $20 million for the Highway 8 corridor, over $50 million has gone into trails and transit projects just in Chisago County.

Oberstar told those gathered the state now has 1,567 insufficient bridges, versus 1,568 prior to the North Branch Bridge completion. Oberstar commented that transportation and the ability to transport goods are the keys to a strong economy. This area's rapid population growth, the pressures on roadways and development demands were all considered in sending funding packages to the state and Chisago County.

Oberstar also thanked county commissioners for working with MnDOT and fronting some of the project costs to construct the #17 interchange, off I-35, a few miles south of North Branch. This needed to be done to relieve some congestion during the #95 bridge construction.

He thanked North Branch City officials with city engineer Julie Dresel getting honorable mention for her tireless work with the state, the engineering consultants WSB and the project contractor Lunda Construction.

Congressman Obserstar said providing adequate roads and bridges means this region can grow more safely and thrive economically.

In photos: Mayor Amy Oehlers addresses the crowd on the southeast corner of the intersection, and atop the bridge for the ribbon-cutting about 9:30 a.m.


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