Wisconsin secures funding for Blatnik Bridge project, push is on for federal support

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On the Friday before the 4th of July, leaders in Wisconsin said they are excited to push for federal funding for the Blatnik Bridge.

Governor Tony Evers was on hand in Superior. “This project is bigger than just a bridge between two states. It’s about building the future we want for our state and proving the quality of life for the people living in northern Wisconsin. We have to get this done.”

Wisconsin now has the $400 million on the state side, to match what Minnesota has secured as well.

WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said, “Minnesota and Wisconsin have both secured funding at the state level for our local match so that we’re ready if we can get this federal money through the Bridge Improvement Program and through the Mega Grant Program.”

More than 33,000 cars travel across the bridge each day.

One of those drivers is Ron Chicka, who is the director of the Metropolitan Interstate Council. He lives in Superior and works in Duluth. He told us seeing the funding pieces come together is important.

“It’s very encouraging at this point because it’s a key piece of infrastructure, an asset that is nearing its life span,” he said.

265,000 trucks carrying nearly $4 billion in goods also travel the Blatnik each year.

Jointly owned and managed by MnDOT and WisDOT, the bridge was built in 1961.

Full Press Conference:

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Senator Tammy Baldwin put that into perspective. “The bridge was completed the same year that John F. Kennedy was president. The Berlin Wall was constructed and the first human traveled into space. Folks, a lot of things have changed since then. Including the integrity of the bridge.”

She secured $7.5 million dollars in this year’s federal budget for the project.

The plan is to replace it, and construction could begin in 2028.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine said he’s grateful for all the partners working together. “This is a 20th century bridge. They recognize and they have been outstanding supporters of building a 21st century bridge.”