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Minnesota, Wisconsin officials seek federal funds to replace Blatnik Bridge

The Wisconsin and Minnesota departments of transportation will seek $889.5 million from the federal government to put toward the 2028 bridge replacement project.

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Blatnik Bridge
File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Minnesota and Wisconsin governors are teaming up to seek funding for the Blatnik Bridge replacement project.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced the joint effort by the states' departments of transportation to seek $889.5 million in federal funding, available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to rebuild the John A. Blatnik Bridge between Duluth and Superior.

“From students to workers to commerce, the Blatnik Bridge is an absolutely critical piece of our economy and a vital route for workers, business owners, students and visitors to get from point A to point B every day,” Ever said in a news release. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize the critical infrastructure that makes our economy work, and this project is a perfect candidate for this funding to strengthen our port cities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.”

The Blatnik Bridge was built in 1961 and carries Interstate 535 and U.S. Highway 53 connecting Duluth and Superior over a tributary of Lake Superior. The route is an important freight and commercial connection between the Twin Ports; it serves more than 33,000 cars per day.

Jointly owned and managed by the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation, the Blatnik Bridge is currently load posted for 40 tons. The replacement project will improve safety and accommodate oversize and overweight loads.

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“I’m proud to partner with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to ensure the Blatnik Bridge gets the funding it needs to be completed safely and efficiently,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in the news release. “This is an important infrastructure project for northern Minnesota, our neighbors in Wisconsin, and our interconnected economies. We look forward to moving forward on this project.”

If successful, the application for federal funding will cover a substantial portion of the project’s budget and streamline scheduling, Evers said. Planning for the 2028 construction project is currently underway.

The push for federal funding is supported by the mayors of Superior and Duluth.

"The Blatnik Bridge is the most vital connection between Duluth and Superior, and makes the Twin Ports a singular community," Superior Mayor Jim Paine said.

“Public infrastructure that supports people, businesses and visitors are the things that bring us together,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said. “The Blatnik Bridge is quite literally a prime example of this — a critical piece of infrastructure that connects … entire regional economies across two states.”

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