(The Center Square) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said their departments of transportation have requested more than $1 billion in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bridge Investment Program to rebuild the John A. Blatnik Bridge between Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin.
“The Blatnik Bridge is a critical connection point for transportation and commerce between Minnesota and Wisconsin – and it needs an upgrade,” Walz said in a statement. “I’m proud to partner with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers as we urge our federal partners to support this project that will foster regional economic growth, bolster our national supply chains, and strengthen the reliability of our transportation network that serves hundreds of communities between our states.”
Evers said the Blatnik Bridge is reaching the end of its service life and needs to be replaced
“For more than 60 years, the Blatnik Bridge has been a vital link for our communities and businesses. But as the bridge reaches the end of its service life, its condition continues to deteriorate – and it’s time for us to exhaust every opportunity to replace this crucial connector with a safer, more efficient, and more reliable structure for the next generation,” Evers said in a statement. “This submittal is a major step forward for our two states, and I look forward to continuing to work with Gov. Walz and our partners in Minnesota and our federal partners to build the 21st-century infrastructure the people of our states deserve.”
Earlier this year, Evers and Walz announced a federal grant application for more than $1 billion through the U.S. DOT’s Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant program. Both grant programs are part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The total project cost is estimated at $1.8 billion. Each state committed $400 million toward the project this year. Both states hope to secure the federal funding necessary to replace this aging infrastructure.
“Replacing this bridge is a top priority. MnDOT is grateful to our federal partners for their consideration. We look forward to working with WisDOT to build the modern and reliable Blatnik Bridge that the Twin Ports deserves,” MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger said in a statement.
For over 60 years, the Blatnik Bridge has been a vital link between Duluth and Superior via Interstate 535 and US 53. Jointly owned and managed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Blatnik Bridge is an important freight and commercial connection between the Duluth-Superior Twin Ports and serves more than 33,000 cars per day.
The bridge is also one of the largest marine links for U.S. trade with Canada, the top trade partner of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the United States. The replacement project will improve safety and accommodate oversized and overweight loads.
“Our commitment to improving safety and the long-term sustainability of our bridges is unwavering. I know our partners at MnDOT share this sentiment,” said WiscDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said in a statement. “These grant applications and deepening shows of support – from local communities and elected officials in both states – demonstrate how important this project is and why we must act with urgency.”