Bridge Construction Leads to No-Wake Zone on St. Croix

Posted at: 06/17/2013 4:12 PM
Updated at: 06/18/2013 7:35 AM
By: Beth McDonough

There's a warning for boaters heading out on the St. Croix River. There's a new no-wake zone set-up.

It's nearly a mile long where the new St. Croix River Bridge is being constructed. The zone is catching some people by surprise. 

Green and red buoys went on the water this month, warning boaters coming through the channel to close throttle. 

The path is 300 feet wide and just shy of a mile long. A DNR boat patrols back and forth, up and down the St. Croix River. It's spreading the word about the new rule. "You have to look at the back of the boat and make sure no large wakes are coming off, anything above 5 to 6 inches is too big," says Cpt. Greg Salo, an enforcement officer with the DNR.

Salo says even small wakes can cause big problems for construction workers building the St. Croix River Bridge.

The wakes can throw the workers, the barges, or tons of heavy equipment off balance.

Sunnyside Marina sits in the middle of the action. The manager is a fan of the no-wake zone. 

Although the businessman in him worries about the bottom line, if boaters avoid this part of the river, "they might decide not to boat this way which means less traffic and less business at the gas pump."  During open wake, it only takes one minute to pass through the channel, with the no-wake zone, it takes about 15 minutes. 

The DNR hasn't handed out any tickets yet. But could, because it's against state law to create a wake that endangers other people or property. 

A ticket runs $140. The no-wake zone is in place for the next four summers through 2016 when the bridge is expected to be completed.