Oak Park Heights veteran in hospice becomes 1st to ride across new bridge

Jack Bohmert of Oak Park Heights, left, and Virginia Ritzer, his significant other, look toward Stillwater during a stop on a July 6 trip across the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge. Bohmert became the first member of the general public to get a ride from MnDOT across the bridge. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

Jack Bohmert of Oak Park Heights, left, and Virginia Ritzer, his significant other, look toward Stillwater during a stop on a July 6 trip across the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge. Bohmert became the first member of the general public to get a ride from MnDOT across the bridge. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

Korean War veteran Jack Bohmert checked an item off his bucket list July 6 and made history at the same time.

At about 11 a.m. Thursday morning, the 82-year-old Oak Park Heights man became the first member of the general public to take a ride across the new St. Croix Crossing bridge.

He made the trip in the passenger seat of construction manager Terry Zoller’s Honda Pilot. They left from Oak Park Crossing Park in Oak Park Heights, and stopped halfway across the river to get out and walk on the bridge deck before completing the trip to Wisconsin. On his return, Bohmert was greeted by U.S. flags flying and people cheering from the Beach Road bridge over Highway 36.

“This is the first non-construction-worker we’ve taken across,” Zoller said.

The bridge isn’t open to traffic yet — a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 2, with the bridge opening within 24 hours. An early crossing like this is unique.

“This was a one-time deal for a very special occasion — it’s not something we would normally ever do,” Zohler said.

Continue reading this Stillwater Gazette story.

 

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