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Grant could speed up bridge project

Construction of a new St. Croix River bridge could start as early as next year if Minnesota secures a federal grant for the project, a Washington County official said.

The county is throwing its support behind a $300 million Minnesota Department of Transportation grant request for the long-delayed project. County commissioners on Tuesday approved a letter of support for the request. A grant would come through the federal economic stimulus package approved earlier this year.

The project is one of five on a list state transportation officials are submitting for consideration.

Assistant County Engineer Wayne Sandberg said grants will range from $20 million to $300 million. If a grant is awarded for the bridge project, construction could begin as early as fall 2010. Without the grant, he said, construction is planned for 2013.

The project is estimated at $600 million. The cost is to be split among Minnesota, Wisconsin and the federal government.

"The project is a vital part of infrastructure in the regional transportation system, and will generate jobs and spur economic development upon its completion," commissioners wrote.

A Sierra Club lawsuit seeking to block bridge construction is pending.