Sunday, March 19, 2017

Space Invaders

We are so sorry to have to break this to you all, but there is a new creepy, crawly, wriggling, thrashing invasive species that you should know about.

It is an unpleasant message to share, but we just don't want anyone freaking out if they happen to encounter these crazy worms in the garden unexpectedly. Be careful so you don't inadvertently introduce jumping worms to your garden from purchased or shared plants and be especially watchful for hidden hitchhikers if you are tempted to take plants up north to the cabin.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

St. Croix Crossing

Last summer the garden club went on an aquatic adventure. A three hour tour, if you will. And we even got lunch! No coconut was on the menu. 

We boarded a paddleboat on the St. Croix River for an educational cruise around and under the construction of the to-be-completed in 2017 St. Croix Crossing that will replace the Stillwater Lift Bridge.

Speakers from the DOT and DNR were on board to narrate what we were seeing. 

For starters we learned that the bridge is an extradosed design which is a hybrid design of a box girder and a stay cable bridge (just as we suspected, but it was good to have that confirmed).

This is not usually the kind of thing NDL gets excited about, but this is a truly amazing project with some very impressive stats and a cool end product. And it was a good excuse to be on a boat on the river on a beautiful day.

The biggest red crane you see here (which certainly has some kind of official name that we don't know) is one of only three this big in the U.S. and it is on loan (I suspect there is a little rental fee) for this project.

Each of these bridge sections that the crane is lifting in this photo weighs 180 tons and there are 988 of them. Total concrete in the bridge will be 563.8 million pounds.

For bit of perspective see the concrete mixer on the barge. The lineup of Porta-Johns up on the bridge deck was impressively large, but tiny compared to the bridge too.

The length of the visible stay cables totals 5.2 miles (about 400 miles of cable strand). 
Within the bridge is 1,969 miles of cable strands.

The length of the bridge is nearly one mile. The width about 100 feet.

Segments between piers is 600 feet. That is the length of two football fields.

Part of the St. Croix Crossing plan that was of interest to the garden club and other outdoor and nature enthusiasts is the planned 4.7 mile Loop Trail.

The trail will connect to existing trails in MN and WI and uses both the new St. Croix Crossing and the existing Stillwater Lift Bridge, which will be converted to a bicycle/pedestrian bridge in 2018-19.

The new bridge will have a designated bicycle/pedestrian lane.

Of particular interest to the Garden Club cruisers were the well thought out plans for sustainable plantings in the many, some very large, areas around the long lead up to the bridge on either side of the river. These spaces include paths, parking lots, roundabouts, restrooms, informational kiosks, and viewing areas. It seems the crossing will be both a bridge to a destination and a destination itself.

If you want to know more check out the MN DOT website for Loop Trail and Design and Construction details