See more of the story

The city of Stillwater has begun removing the temporary beralong the downtown riverfront that for the past few weeks held back the floodwaters of the St. Croix River.

The St. Croix was at 83 feet and falling Thursday afternoon, about four feet below the minor flood stage of 87 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The city's worst-ever flood in 1965 saw the river crest at 94.1 feet.

The cleanup and removal of the earthen dike should stretch into next week before it's finished, said assistant city engineer Reabar Abdullah.

The city closed parking lots along the river on March 22 in anticipation of floods. Constuction of the dike began shortly after, with hundreds of volunteers bagging sand as city crews joined a private contractor, Miller Excavating, to build the earthen berm stretching from Nelson Street near the Dock Café to Mulberry Street.

Once the dike is removed, perhaps by the end of next week, the state Department of Transportation will reopen the lift bridge portion of the Loop Trail, a walking and cycling trail that crosses the St. Croix at Stillwater. That could happen by May 19, according to a statement from MnDOT. The 4.7-mile trail uses the historic lift bridge and the St. Croix Crossing Bridge to connect trails running along both sides of the river.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge should resume normal service on Monday, according to MnDOT. The bridge opens every 30 minutes between 8 a.m. and midnight seven days a week until the end of the season, usually around Oct. 15. Lifts outside of those hours can be coordinated by calling MnDOT at 651-234-7110 or the bridge tender by marine radio channel 16.