Ah yes, construction season has been in full swing. We've been navigating detours and lane closures since May, but recent lane closure changes on the Blatnik Bridge have been causing some close calls from confused motorists.

A project began in the last couple of weeks that brought single-lane closures to the Blatnik Bridge. They are working on maintenance that includes improving the drainage system, making deck repairs, sealing the deck, painting, and other cleaning and sealing segments of the bridge.

Blatnik Bridge (US Highway 53) between Duluth, MN and Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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For the first half of this maintenance, the Duluth-bound left lane was closed. Traffic coming from Hammond Avenue had a sign to yield to traffic coming from Highway US 53/2 on-ramp.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Occasionally you would have someone that would forget that YIELD and MERGE are two different things. When you have a yield sign, you are supposed to stop and allow the other traffic to pass, and then proceed when able. Even from the start, it's been a little hairy.

However, it got more confusing as I noticed this on my way to work the last couple of mornings. The deck sealing was finished on the left lane, so they moved the lane closure to the right lane. With the right lane being closed, the yield sign was moved to the on-ramp. Motorists not paying attention or used to not needing to yield had some close calls running into traffic that came from Hammond Avenue.

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The confusion was brought up on several local community Facebook pages. Many people commented how the change caught them off guard. It appears now that they have added additional signs indicating a yield ahead.

Many are hoping that the project will be done soon. However, the Blatnik Bridge Project is scheduled to run until September.

MN DOT
MN DOT
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This maintenance project costs $6 Million and is needed to extend the life of the aging bridge. A full replacement project is being planned now. The construction of the new bridge is scheduled to begin in 2028. You can read more about that on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's project page. 

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