ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -

Crews are beginning groundwork on the St. Croix Crossing project to connect Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says crews this week will begin hauling materials adjacent to the Beach Road ramp off eastbound Highway 36 in Oak Park Heights.

Piles of dirt will be monitored during the winter to measure the weight-bearing ability of soils beneath the piles.

Crews also will build a parking lot this fall for use by the city of Oak Park Heights and a restaurant, to replace parking spaces lost to changes in the frontage road.

The St. Croix Crossing project will replace the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge with a four-lane bridge that will connect expressways on both sides of the St. Croix River.