Blatnik Bridge reconstruction project looking to secure federal funds
There are only a few more years before the lengthy reconstruction of the Blatnik Bridge will begin. However, there are still discussions on how to raise the funds needed for the Blatnik Bridge reconstruction project.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota, said there’s bipartisan legislative efforts in Minnesota and Wisconsin to get necessary federal grants.
“Duluth has applied for three different kinds of grants from the Department of Transportation,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “We have a short construction season up here. We want to get this grant in January.”
The Blatnik Bridge reconstruction project is estimated to cost nearly one billion dollars, however, the goal is to have federal grants pay half of the costs.
Matt Baumbgartner, the President of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, said maintaining the Blatnik Bridge is vital for Duluth, but also Superior.
“The proposed reconstruction is not just a structural overhaul, it’s an investment in our economic future. Promise to enhance efficiency, safety and reliability for our businesses,” Baumbgartner said. “The bridge is a critical artery for commerce. Our bridge supports local businesses, from retail to manufacturing to tourism, ensuring that they remain competitive and connected to our broader markets.”
Jack Carlson, the president of Duluth Building and Construction Trades also said the Blatnik Bridge project will provide plenty of union workers with steady work and benefits throughout reconstruction.
“It’s going to go on for quite some time. And that’s going to give our individuals that we represent,” Carlson said. “Within our unions and our local crafts the ability to provide a good paying job. Great benefits and a steady employment into the near future.”
Mayor-Elect Roger Reinert also provided several numbers looking into exactly how many people need the Blatnik Bridge every day.
“33,000 vehicles on a daily basis cross the bottleneck bridge. 12,000 people move back and forth across the bridge on our daily basis to work,” Reinert said. “9000 Wisconsinites come to Minnesota, Duluth and our near neighbors every day, and 3000 Minnesotans go over the bridge every day, $4 billion of commerce on an annual basis”