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Saltzman: Stillwater bridge restrictions to take effect June 26

State Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury) announced that a new law restricting semi-truck lengths in downtown Stillwater will take effect on Friday, June 26.

Stillwater's historic downtown and businesses will soon receive relief from gridlock and safer traffic conditions because of this initiative brought forward by local legislators.

"I am so pleased that everyone came to realize the extent of this problem and were then committed to working together and supporting legislation that will improve safety and decrease traffic gridlock in Stillwater's historic downtown," Saltzman said. "I sincerely appreciate that Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel and Mn/DOT staff, along with Mayor Ken Harycki, worked with Sen. Ray Vandeveer and me to implement this badly needed change.

"I thank them for helping address our community's concerns and look forward to future cooperative efforts needed to build the new St. Croix River Crossing."

This new law will restrict commercial vehicle combinations over 55 feet in length on the two-block section of Chestnut Street between Main Street and the Stillwater Lift Bridge.

The new restrictions will prevent oversize commercial vehicles from making dangerous turns on and off of Main Street that block multiple traffic lanes and often put pedestrians on nearby sidewalks in jeopardy.

The legislation, introduced by Sens. Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) and Saltzman, received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Emergency and maintenance vehicles are exempted from the new length restrictions.

Past efforts to advance legislation that restricted traffic was opposed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but recent incidents involving damage to the bridge by oversize trucks and repeated safety violations by trucks using the lift bridge route to avoid the I-94 weigh station raised new concerns.

"The new regulation will help prevent gridlock and make our historic downtown much more pleasant and safe for both local residents and visitors," Saltzman said. "We do our best work when everyone gets involved and is committed to getting the job done."

During the conference committee, legislators added language that allows for a $120 annual permit to be issued for commercial vehicles over the 55 foot length restriction under specific conditions already in Minnesota Statute 169.86, Subdivision 5, Paragraph (d).

Saltzman noted that this language was added to ensure local businesses operating oversize vehicles that carry construction equipment, machinery or supplies will be eligible for permits.

These permits are available on-line, by phone, mail or in person. Additional information is available at www.dot.state.mn.us/cvo/oversize/oversize.html.

Legislators plan to work with local officials to educate the public about the new regulations and permitting process.

For more information, e-mail Saltzman's Capitol office at sen.kathy.saltzman@senate.mn or call (651) 296-4166.

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