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San Francisco has its Golden Gate Bridge, a vision in reddish orange.

The blue lighting of the new Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis has created quite a stir.

Now state officials want to restore the iconic Stillwater Lift Bridge, currently an ordinary gray, to its original deep green and convert it to a bicycle and pedestrian crossing.

The public will get a chance to see the new color and discuss details about the proposed conversion at an open house on Feb. 5 at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater. A three-dimensional model of the proposed Lift Bridge also will be on display.

The model is about 2 1/2 feet tall and was created by Feyereisen Studios of Minneapolis. It was designed using Braille and other features to also allow the visually impaired to experience the model.

"It's a very unique model and it's the first time we ever built a model for the blind," said Bob Feyereisen, whose company built the model with the help of two consultants from the blind community, Ken Rodgers and Jo Taliaferro.

The $10,000 model has lampposts held in place by magnets so that they can detach, instead of break off, when someone touches them. And the crosswalks, instead of just being painted, have a thickness so that a blind person can feel there's a crosswalk there, Feyereisen said.

The cost of the model has raised some concerns. A recent editorial in the Hudson Star-Observer stated: "The new cause of excitement was a scale model of a restored and renovated lift bridge. That model came at a cost of $10,000 ... Probably a bargain in building scale model bridges, but most likely an unnecessary expense in the minds of most taxpayers. If we want to see what the bridge looks like, it's not too difficult to find the real thing!"

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has posted a few computer animations of the proposed Lift Bridge on its website. Some say there's value in getting to see the replica.

"It really looks just like the Lift Bridge," said Gary Kriesel, a Washington County commissioner who saw the model about two weeks ago. "It gives you an outstanding idea of what it will look like as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge."

The bridge opened in 1931, the last of five of its kind built in Minnesota and Wisconsin by the same company.

For the past year and a half, officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation have been working with an advisory group, including the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, historic preservation groups and others, to develop the Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge Management Plan and Repair Project.

"We're now at the point in the process where we're presenting the final management plan and repair project," said Todd Clarkowski, MnDOT east area engineer.

The conversion of the Lift Bridge is timed with the proposed construction of the St. Croix River Crossing Project. That project calls for a bridge with multiple lanes of traffic to be constructed about a mile south of the Lift Bridge.

Currently, about 16,000 vehicles cross the Lift Bridge each day, Clarkowski said.

"Within a year after the construction of the new river crossing, we'll do the conversion of the Lift Bridge," he said. Construction for the new river crossing is scheduled to begin in 2013.

As for the bridge's new, old-look color, Clarkowski said the truss itself would be painted green, while the railing on the sidewalk on the bridge's south side would be silver.

"The intent is to restore it back to its original color," he said.

Allie Shah • 651-298-1550