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Blatnik project will close Duluth-bound lanes starting Monday

The Duluth-bound lanes on the Blatnik Bridge will close on Monday as work begins on a two-year, $12 million rehabilitation project. The lanes will remain closed until mid-summer. The bridge's southbound lanes will remain open during that time, al...

The Duluth-bound lanes on the Blatnik Bridge will close on Monday as work begins on a two-year, $12 million rehabilitation project.

The lanes will remain closed until mid-summer. The bridge's southbound lanes will remain open during that time, although motorists may encounter brief, single-lane closures.

The Superior-bound lanes will close entirely when the Duluth-bound lanes reopen. The Superior-bound lanes will remain closed until October. During that time, Duluth-bound motorists will encounter brief single-lane closures.

Next year the bridge will remain open, although periodic lane closures in each direction will be needed to finish painting the bridge.

The Bong Bridge will remain open as an alternative route.

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Work on the Blatnik Bridge will include repairing and strengthening gusset plates to improve the bridge's load-bearing capacity, sandblasting and painting the main span, replace the concrete traffic rail on the main span with a lighter rail, replacing expansion joints, and removing the bridge's decorative lights.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation formed a team of local and state officials interested in installing a new lighting system on the bridge. The team met Friday and is optimistic that a new lighting system will be installed and operational by fall 2013.

Opened to traffic in 1961, the Blatnik carries approximately 29,500 vehicles a day.

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