ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Officials announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded nearly $1.06 billion in federal funding to replace the aging John A. Blatnik Bridge between Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin.
“This is big news for Minnesota. This investment will make it possible for Minnesota and Wisconsin to rebuild a critical connection between our states that will foster regional economic growth, strengthen our national supply chains, and improve the safety and reliability of our transportation network,” Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. “This is a project that will serve hundreds of communities between our states.”
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in the statement released by Walz’s office that this is “a transformational opportunity” for both states in bringing a key piece of infrastructure into the 21st century.
“A new Blatnik Bridge means safer vehicle travel and better support for the billions of dollars in freight moving across the bridge each year,” Evers said.
The bridge is an important freight and commercial connection between the Duluth-Superior Twin Ports and serves more than 33,000 vehicles per day, according to the statement. It is jointly owned and managed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
For more than 60 years, the bridge has linked Duluth and Superior via Interstate 535 and US 53.
It is also one of the largest marine links for U.S. trade with Canada — the top trade partner of Wisconsin, Minnesota and the United States — the statement said. The bridge replacement project will improve safety and accommodate oversize and overweight loads.
The total cost for rebuilding the bridge is estimated to be $1.8 billion, according to the statement. Each state committed $400 million toward the project last year. Design work for the project, which will determine specifications and the shape the final project, is expected to begin this year. Once a final design is selected, construction could begin as early as next year.