The John A. Blatnik Bridge is Minnesota's second-longest bridge, carrying I-535 over St. Louis Bay. Both the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation recognize it's an important freight and commercial connection between the Twin Ports, serving an average of 33,021 vehicles traveling between the two cities each day

However, there are serious concerns about the long-term stability of the Blatnik Bridge, so MnDOT and WisDOT are working together on a future project to address those concerns.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is leading the project, says they're looking to address aging infrastructure, improve safety, and better accommodate oversize/overweight loads.

The following timeline has been established for the Blatnik Bridge Project:

  • 2020 to 2024: Preferred Alternative Selection and Environmental Documentation
  • 2024 to 2026: Preliminary Design
  • 2026 to 2028: Final Design
  • 2028 to 2032: Construction
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The joint project was deemed necessary based on the following:

  • Significant deterioration in truss elements
  • Additional maintenance causes lane closures up to three times annually
  • Significant steel and cable repairs were required in 2016 after an inspection revealed increased deterioration
  • Reactionary structural repair is needed every four years
  • In June 2019, the main truss span and approach spans were load posted for 40 tons and therefore can no longer accommodate overweight loads
    Increased road user delays for scheduled bridge maintenance activities and inspections
  • A safety inspection is required every year, which requires lane closures for one to three weeks

That last element is something Northland motorists dread each year and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced they will be conducting their 2023 routine Blatnik Bridge inspections starting on Monday, July 10.

Motorists can expect right lane closures with a 10’ width restriction during working hours of 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Work will begin on the Superior bound side of the bridge and the inspections will take approximately three weeks to complete.

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