WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) and Governor Tim Walz (D) announced a $1.05 billion federal grant to replace the Blatnik Bridge, which connects Duluth to Superior. The Blatnik Bridge opened in 1961 and has reached the end of its useful life. Bridge users experience lane closures and other disruptions multiple times each year due to inspections and maintenance work. This new bridge will be safer and boost the regional economy, as the Blatnik Bridge is integral to helping transport Minnesota goods for export to global markets.
“For over 60 years, the Blatnik Bridge has connected commuters, businesses, and communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but it’s in serious need of a replacement,” said Klobuchar. “The significant federal grant we secured for the Blatnik Bridge replacement project will bolster safety and reliability for the thousands of people who use this bridge every day.”
“The Blatnik Bridge is not only an essential connector for commuters in the Upper Midwest region—our national economy depends on this Bridge to deliver goods and services and for proper functioning of national supply chains,” said Smith. “Without this funding, the Blatnik Bridge would soon become unsafe, and thanks to President Biden and Minnesota Democrats in Congress, we finally have the necessary resources to make the bridge safer, more reliable, and more efficient.”
“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,” said Walz. “This is a project that will serve hundreds of communities between our states. I am grateful for the partnership of Governor Evers, our Congressional leaders, and the White House in making this project happen.”
The Governor has long advocated for federal funding for the project, including making grant applications and meeting with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in October.INFRA (Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects program) grants can be used by communities across the country for multimodal freight and highway projects of national or regional significance to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and transit mobility. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Klobuchar and Smith supported and was signed into law in 2021, delivered a 50 percent increase in the amount of available funding for INFRA grants, as well as resources for improving the state’s roads, bridges, public transportation, and water infrastructure.
In December 2023, Klobuchar and Smith, along with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN), sent a bipartisan letter urging Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to support Minnesota and Wisconsin’s application for federal funding to rebuild the Blatnik Bridge.
In September 2023, Klobuchar, Smith, Baldwin, and Representative Stauber sent a letter to President Biden urging him to fund this project.
In August 2023, Klobuchar and Smith sent letters to Secretary Buttigieg in support of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)’s applications for funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the U.S. Department of Transportation National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program and its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Program.
In 2022, Klobuchar, Smith, and Baldwin sent a letter to President Biden urging him to fund this project.
President Biden visited the Blatnik Bridge in 2022 with Klobuchar, Baldwin, and Smith, to discuss how the bridge could benefit from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
In 2021, Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, highlighted the importance of the Blatnik Bridge and its need for safety improvements at Secretary Buttigieg’s nomination hearing to be Secretary of Transportation.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed into law in November 2021, is the single largest dedicated investment for the repair and reconstruction of bridges since the construction of the Interstate Highway System.