Gov. Walz, Gov. Evers, Sen. Klobuchar, request federal funds to rebuild Blatnik Bridge

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 11:51 AM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Minnesota and Wisconsin are seeking federal help to rebuild the Blatnik Bridge.

Governor Tim Walz and Governor Tony Evers announced Monday the states will ask for over $1 billion in federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to rebuild the bridge.

“The Blatnik Bridge connects the Twin Ports communities and economies of Duluth and Superior – it provides a vital route for regional commerce, tourism, and emergency services,” said Governor Walz.

“The bridge improvements will foster regional economic growth but also bolster national supply chains and strengthen the reliability of the transportation network that serves hundreds of communities across northern Wisconsin and Minnesota,” says Governor Evers.

“This bridge is critical to the regional economy and keeps our communities connected, which is why I am calling on the Administration to grant Minnesota and Wisconsin’s funding application to replace the bridge,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar in a statement on Monday.

According to officials, the bridge is an important freight and commercial connection between the Duluth-Superior Twin Ports and serves more than 33,000 cars per day.

The replacement project will improve safety and accommodate oversize and overweight loads.

“The Blatnik Bridge is rated as Minnesota’s highest risk for service disruption and replacing the bridge prior to 2030 is a top priority,” said MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger.

“Local residents and businesses rely on the Blatnik Bridge every day and any closures or traffic delays for maintenance work directly impacts their livelihood,” said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson.

It is stated the Blatnik Bridge is a major freight asset for the national economy.

Each year, it carries nearly 265,000 trucks transporting $2.66 billion in domestic goods and $1.07 billion in international goods coming and going from 42 states and nine Canadian provinces.

Duluth’ port is the 17th largest port in the U.S. which accommodates the maritime transportation needs of a wide range of industries including agriculture, forestry, mining and manufacturing, construction, power generation, and passenger cruising.

The states have already committed to a combined $800 million in state funding for the project.

Transportation leaders have been working on this project since 2020 and plan to unveil the recommended design of the new bridge in October.

Federal funding would be allocated to a substantial portion of the project’s budget and streamline scheduling.

Design work for the project, which would determine specifications and shape the total cost of the project, is anticipated to begin in 2024.

Construction could begin in 2027 if funding is secured.

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