Updated June 27, 2011 (at bottom)
The Pioneer Press reportsAnother potential shutdown casualty: Stillwater Lift Bridge
The Stillwater Lift Bridge would likely close during a state government shutdown, city officials have been told.
The employee who operates the bridge is not expected to be classified as critical, and the bridge would be left in the up position to allow river navigation.
It would close to traffic starting June 30.
About 18,000 cars use the lift bridge on an average day, said Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki, with 25,000 or so on peak summer weekends. Traffic would be routed over the Interstate 94 bridge.
(1) This is of course stupid for a variety of reasons, and would not occur but for the needless politicization of transportation. No other public utility would find itself shut down because of the state budget problem. Imagine they turned off electricity, or water, or even transit.
(2) This will make an excellent experiment on the importance (or lack) of this bridge. If only someone were doing before, during, and after studies. Of course with the shutdown, no one would get paid to do a “during” study.
(3) The evidence that the facility is not considered “critical” is telling about its importance.
Update June 27, 2011 with Pioneer Press article
The Stillwater Lift Bridge could remain open even if a state government shutdown occurs Friday, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said this morning.
MnDOT is including operation of the lift bridge as a core critical function in its contingency planning efforts, pending a final court ruling.
After consulting with public safety officials and healthcare providers over the past several days, MnDOT officials have determined that the lift bridge is a “core service critical to maintaining life and health safety,” said Kevin Gutknecht, a spokesman for MnDOT.
“We looked pretty hard at that, and we understand the issues so it seemed to like a good thing to do,” Gutknecht said. The lift bridge will remain open primarily to allow ambulance traffic to continue between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Republican legislators have scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference near the bridge to urge Gov. Mark Dayton to continue delivery of critical services such as the bridge in the event of a government shutdown.
The news conference was planned before MnDOT made its announcement.
I guess MnDOT reads the blog and concluded the optics of a shutdown would look bad for this and for a potential replacement bridge.