OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn. - The new St. Croix Crossing bridge now connects from Oak Park Heights, Minn. to St. Joseph, Wis. But drivers will have to wait until fall 2017 to use the bridge.

Tuesday, crews put into place the last four bridge deck segments for the mile-long crossing. Those segments were the last of nearly 1,000 concrete segments used for the bridge.

"It'll look like a complete bridge this fall and into the winter but there's still a lot of work remaining to be completed next year," said Michael Beer, MnDOT project director.

2 1/2-foot gaps between each of the piers will be closed over the course of this winter. According to Beer, crews still have a number of tasks to complete before the bridge can open to traffic including painting, electrical and drainage work.

"We'll have a nice straight shot from Minnesota to Wisconsin and from Wisconsin to Minnesota without having to go through downtown Stillwater," Beer said.

Beer said the new bridge will make for a smoother commute with an estimated 30,000 vehicles on the bridge each day.

"It'll be a substantial time savings for the congestion that they encounter," he said.

The bridge was originally supposed to open in November but construction issues delayed the opening until fall 2017.

"This is a big milestone today," said Terry Zoller, MnDOT construction manager. Zoller, who has been with MnDOT for more than 40 years, plans to retire after the opening.

"This is my final project... It's a heck of a great way to go out of the business," he said.

The St. Croix Crossing project is estimated to cost $617-$646 million. The bridge itself is estimated to cost $376.5 million.