Since the announcement more than a year ago that the Blatnik Bridge was officially on the docket for replacement, a lot of attention has been focused on what that new structure will look like.  After all - more than 33,000 vehicles cross the current bridge each day.  It's one of two bridges that connect Duluth, Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin (three - if you include the Oliver Bridge, but that crosses a little to the south through Oliver, Wisconsin).

As the Minnesota Department of Transportation gets ready for the design and eventual construction of the replacement span, they've been doing a good job of keeping the general public informed and involved in the process.  It's under that premise that a public meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 12, 2021 to continue that process.  As has been the case with most public meetings with MNDOT this past year, this one will also be held virtually to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  The meeting presentation will take place starting at 6:00 PM and everyone is invited to attend. Just click here to get more details and to join the meeting.

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The reasons for replacing the Blatnik Bridge have been shared already by MNDOT and probably most drivers who live in the Twin Ports are aware of their generalities:

  • MNDOT inspections have found significant deterioration in the truss elements
  • Safety inspections are required every year, requiring lane closures for one to three weeks
  • Additional maintenance causes lane closures up to three times annually
  • Significant steel and cable repairs were required and made in 2016 after inspection revealed significant deterioration
  • Reactionary structural repairs have been needed every four years
  • In June 2019, main truss span and approach spans were load posted for 40 tons - meaning that the bridge can no longer accommodate overweight loads
  • Increased road user delays for scheduled bridge maintenance activities and inspections

It should be pointed out that the replacement for the Blatnik Bridge is in the very early stages of development.  However, there is a general timeline established by MNDOT that the project is operating under:

  • 2020 to 2024:  Preferred alternative selection and environmental documentation
  • 2024 to 2026:  Preliminary design
  • 2026 to 2028:  Final design
  • 2028 to 2031:  Construction

To learn more about the Blatnik Bridge replacement project, click here.  There is also a link to the presentation that was made at the first public meeting - which includes a detailed history of the current span; click here.

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