$889.5 Million In Federal Funds Sought For Duluth + Superior Blatnik Bridge Replacement Project
Double the cost of the Twin Ports Interchange work - and the work is still a few years off. As local and state transportation officials start to put the pieces together on the work to replace the aging Blatnik Bridge, funding is key. And, it's become a joint-effort.
The Blatnik Bridge is co-owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Although daily maintenance (things like plowing, etc) are divided in a different way, the overall plan to replace the bridge built in 1961 has been an exercise in shared responsibility.
The drive to find federal funding is no exception.
At this point the estimated cost for a replacement for the Blatnik Bridge is $889.5 million. And while a portion of that money will come from each state (Minnesota and Wisconsin), both government entities are looking towards the federal government for funding.
According to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the governors of both states have teamed up to solicit federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. If their bid to gain federal funds is successful, "the application....will cover a substantial portion of the project's budget and streamline scheduling".
Comments from government leaders from both sides of the bridge - both state and local - show that everyone is on the same page. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said:
"I'm proud to partner with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to ensure the Blatnik Bridge gets the funding it needs to be completed safely and efficiently. This is an important infrastructure project for northeastern Minnesota, our neighbors in Wisconsin, and our interconnected economies. We look forward to moving forward on this project."
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers concurred, pointing out the important role the Blatnik Bridge plays in our interconnected economies:
"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. 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."
That same symbiotic relationship at the state level is being played out locally at the city level as well. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson explains:
"Public infrastructure that supports people, businesses, and visitors are the things that bring us together. The Blatnik Bridge is quite literally a prime example of this - a critical piece of infrastructure that connects....entire regional economies across two states."
Superior Mayor Jim Paine offered: "The Blatnik Bridge is the most vital connection between Duluth and Superior, and makes the Twin Ports a singular community".
While the Blatnik Bridge still carries "more than 33,000 cars per day", it has reached the end of its lifespan. In fact, posted load limits had to be reduced a few years ago over concerns about it's age.