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Sierra Club tries again to stop Stillwater bridge construction

The Sierra Club is trying for a second time to stop a new four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River between Houlton, Wis., and Stillwater, Minn.

At a federal court hearing Monday, the group said the current plan is similar to one the National Park Service rejected 13 years ago - and it would cause even more environmental damage.

But a lawyer for the Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration said the new project is different, and it's the result of a hard-fought compromise among several concerns.

The $668 million bridge has been in the works for 20 years. It would replace a small lift bridge as the main connection over the river north of Hudson.

The new bridge would move commuter traffic out of Stillwater's historic downtown, and take it just south of the community.

The old bridge would then be used only by bicycles and walkers.

The Sierra Club is trying to stop Wisconsin, Minnesota and the federal highway agency from doing any work on the new bridge.

Among other things, the group says it violates the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - which protects the St. Croix River.

Wisconsin DOT attorney Rich Moriarty said the new bridge is sorely needed and delayed for too long.