Conservation Minnesota

Sand Trucks And The St. Croix

One of the prettiest drives near the metro area is along the beautiful St. Croix river on Highway 95 from Stillwater to Taylors Falls.  The latter is a very scenic town settled on hillsides, adjacent to Minnesota’s second state park, Interstate, with a significant district full of historic houses at Angel’s Hill.

The nationally-designated St. Croix wild and scenic river headquarters is right across from Taylors Falls in St. Croix Falls, with several National Park personnel in hand.  And Highway 95 is a state-designated scenic byway as it runs through the town.

Now the highway and town are threatened by a possible huge increase in frac sand truck traffic.  A Barron, Wisconsin company, Superior Silica Sands, has been negotiating with the city of North Branch in Minnesota for a frac sand transloading station that would allow for the heavy truck traffic increase.

If the station is built in North Branch, there is the potential for 100-200 more frac sand trucks rumbling through Taylors Falls.  A reopening of a sand mine this Spring that is less than ten miles south of Taylors Falls has already brought significant frac sand truck traffic into the town.

There is only one traffic light in town, at the juncture of Highway 95 and Highway 8 coming from the east, and significantly more truck traffic would cause long tie-ups along the roadways and the bridge over the St. Croix river.  Taylors Falls relies heavily on its tourism economy, which undoubtedly will be hurt.

Over 300 petitioners to stop the transloading station caused Superior Silica Sands to stop talking to North Branch officials about building.  However, the officials are pushing again for the station to happen for economic development.

If you value quieter scenic byways and historic villages, easy access to an important state park, and dislike waiting with heavy trucks in long traffic lines, you may want to add your name to the Taylors Falls petition.

About John Helland

John Helland
John Helland is a history graduate of the University of Minnesota. He served as the nonpartisan legislative research analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives after graduation. He worked extensively on environment and natural resources legislation and issues, and was the primary nonpartisan research staffer for the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committees from 1971 to 2008.
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