A bipartisan group of U.S. Senate and Congress members have sent a letter calling on President Biden to free up over $1 billion to repair the John A. Blatnik Bridge.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) applied for $1.07 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in August. Officials expect the bridge repairs to cost approximately $1.8 billion in 2028, and both states will contribute a combined total of $800 million.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin and eight other legislators from Wisconsin and Minnesota wrote a letter to Biden to support that states’ application.
“Over 33,000 vehicles cross the bridge per day, including commuters and visitors. The Blatnik Bridge is also an essential economic engine in the region and a key link in the global supply chain. Each year, 265,000 trucks transporting nearly $4 billion in goods pass over the bridge. It is also one of the largest marine links for U.S. trade with Canada, the top trade partner of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the whole United States,” according to the letter.
The bridge was originally built in 1961, it is the second largest bridge in Minnesota. Both WisDOT and MNDOT are planning a future project to replace the aging structure.
The schedule for the bridge is:
- 2020-24: Preferred alternative selection and environmental documentation
- 2023-25: Preliminary design
- 2025-26: Final design
- 2025-32: Phased construction, with complete bridge closure for four to five years
Federal funding would be used to replace all structural elements of the bridge, according to the letter. The project includes a pedestrian path, addressing safety concerns at bridge interchanges, and restoring the bridge to its original condition, the letter added.