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Duluth-bound closure delayed

A car travels westbound at the Bong Bridge; plans to close the westbound lanes have been put off until May, but single-lane closures in both directions start Monday. (Jed Carlson/

The two-year project to make improvements to U.S. Highway 2 at the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge will begin Monday as planned, but plans to close the Duluth-bound lanes of the bridge won’t go into effect until May 5.

Expect single-lane closures in both directions starting Monday.

After reviewing the contractor schedule, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has delayed the detour plans for westbound U.S. 2 to minimize disruption to commuters and commercial traffic, said WisDOT spokeswoman Chris Ouellette.

Beginning Monday, there will be single lane closures on both east and westbound US 2 over the Bong Bridge. The lane closures will be in effect until May 5.

“After working cooperatively with the contractor and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, we will implement the originally planned detour of westbound U.S. 2 over the Blatnik Bridge on May 5,” said Project Manager Matt Dickenson. “We will still be able to accomplish the work that is scheduled to be completed this year, but reducing the time the westbound lanes are closed will make it more convenient for all motorists.”

But plans to reroute the Duluth Transit Authority’s Route No. 16 will go ahead as planned, at least for the time being.

Starting Monday, the bus coming into Superior will no longer pick up passengers at Cumming and Baxter avenues on North Fifth Street as buses divert to the cloverleaf in anticipation of heavier-than-usual traffic bound for Duluth on the Blatnik Bridge. The affected stops have been posted to advise DTA riders of the temporary suspension.

The reroute affects only eastbound traffic travel from the bridge to Grand Avenue, where the DTA resumes its route along North Fifth Street to Catlin Avenue.

Buses traveling westward along North Fifth Street will continue to pick up passengers at Baxter and Cumming avenues en route to the Blatnik Bridge.

Heath Hickok, marketing director for the DTA, said while plans to close the Bong Bridge have changed, plans for the detour on Route 16 remain unchanged until DTA officials evaluate the traffic situation.

Increased traffic to the Blatnik Bridge is expected to hamper left turns from the bridge onto North Fifth Street.

The $18.2 million project, which is expected to take two years, includes an overlay of the existing bridge deck and repairs to the sidewalk. Components of the arch, existing expansion joints, and street and ship navigation lights will be replaced, and the arch and girder ends get a new coat of paint.

In addition, the approach on the Superior side of the bridge is getting a new configuration when construction of a roundabout gets underway this year.