Rep. Keith Ellison was one of just two Minnesota legislators who voted against a new bridge over the St. Croix River on Thursday.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 339-80 in favor of a $700 million four-lane bridge. Critics of the bridge, which will replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge, argued that it was “oversized and overpriced,” in the words of an Ellison news release.
On the floor of the House, Ellison said Minnesota has 1,400 other neglected bridges that need to be repaired—including the Highway 7 bridge over Highway 100 . The St. Croix River bridge will take away funds from bridges like those that are in need of repairs.
“This is not a good use of taxpayer money. It soaks up resources that other people need. It violates our Scenic and Wild River Act. This is a bad idea,” Ellison said.
In a news release after the vote, he added that exempting the bridge from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act sets a precedent that would justify building bridges over any of the country’s Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Yet Rep. Betty McCollum was the only member of the Minnesota delegation to join Ellison in opposing the bridge.
The project brought together Minnesota legislators from opposite sides of the political spectrum—such as Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who sponsored the House bill, and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who sponsored the Senate version that passed in January.
The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.