The Blatnik Bridge, a Key Link Between Duluth and Superior, Has Been Classified as “Fracture Critical”
Transportation officials say the Blatnik Bridge is among 7,795 bridges across the country that has been classified as "fracture critical" or "structurally deficient".The Blatnik Bridge itself falls into the "fracture critical" category, which is a designation given to bridges that could collapse if a component like a load-bearing girder fails.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Structures Director Scot Becker says this classification is worth noting, but downplays the severity of the name. He explains that this classification means the bridge wasn't designed to carry the load if one of the load-bearing parts fails. He offers the example that some brand new bridges may be given this classification before they are even used, simply based on their design.
Of greater concern are bridges with a "structurally deficient" classification. This classification is reserved for bridges that have been worn or deteriorated as a result of use and time. This classification of bridge is in more immediate need of repair. The Blatnik Bridge does not fall into this category at this time.
The Blatnik Bridge is currently in the process of being rehabilitated by crews, offering several improvements to counteract some of the effects of use and wear.