Blatnik Bridge reverses gearsMotorists heading to Duluth will be able to use the Blatnik Bridge to get there again. However, motorists coming from Duluth will have to take the Bong Bridge to get to Superior.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Motorists heading to Duluth will be able to use the Blatnik Bridge to get there again. However, motorists coming from Duluth will have to take the Bong Bridge to get to Superior.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to make the switch to reopen the northbound lane to Duluth and close the southbound lane to Superior on Aug. 27.
The Blatnik Bridge is undergoing a major, two-year rehabilitation project that got underway in May. The project includes maintenance work designed to extend the life of the bridge, originally constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the 1990s, the span of the bridge was widened, and a new deck and lighting were installed.
The project underway includes repair and strengthening of gusset plates to improve load-carrying capacity, and sandblasting and painting the main span in the “splash zone” where vehicle spray and road salt can cause corrosion.
Work is also underway to replace concrete traffic rail with a thinner, lighter system to reduce the overall weight on the bridge and increase load capacity. It’s work that will allow for more thorough inspections of the bridge, according to MinnDOT.
Leaking expansion joints that are allowing water and salt to damage structural steel also are being replaced and outline lighting installed in 1996 is being removed. An open house to share renderings for the new landmark bridge lighting is tentative scheduled for Aug. 29. Originally planned for July, the open house was postponed because of the June 19-20 flooding.
Work on the southbound lane of the Blatnik Bridge is expected to run through October.
Next year, as work continues on the $12.9 million rehabilitation project, both lanes of traffic will remain open with periodic lane closures in each direction during non-peak times — between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. — in 2013. The entire project should wrap up in October 2013.