The Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation have installed signs to remind drivers that permitted, overweight vehicles cannot use the Interstate 535/Highway 53 Blatnik Bridge; these vehicles will be rerouted to the Highway 2 Bong Bridge.
Permitted, overweight vehicles have been restricted from using the Blatnik Bridge since early 2008 when inspections showed corrosion and time were starting to affect the bridge.
"This is how we take care of bridges. We inspect them, if we find an issue, we address it," said Amr Jabr, MnDOT District 1 engineer. "And, if we need to restrict the bridge until repairs are made, we do that."
MnDOT bridge inspectors conducted a two-week, in-depth inspection of the bridge in mid-summer 2011 in advance of a bridge preservation project scheduled for spring 2012. Data from the inspection was analyzed; some repairs were made and additional rehabilitation work will be done next year.
"The bridge is aging, but it is safe," Jabr said. "Restricting overweight loads will help extend the life of the bridge."
The bridge will be re-evaluated for appropriate load limits once the preservation project is complete.
Minnesota and Wisconsin will share the costs associated with the 2012 bridge preservation project.
Drivers who disregard the posted weight limits will be ticketed.