This profile is part of a project that finds and tracks the public and private sector investments generated or supported by three of the Biden administration’s economic laws. These laws make investments in the American people, helping to grow the middle class, lowering the cost of living, and setting up America to better compete and cooperate in the world. Pulling directly from several sources, this catalog provides users with publicly available information such as the number of jobs created, workforce training partnerships, and storytellers benefiting from particular projects, among other detailed information. The profile below expands on the economic, practical, and climate impacts of just one of the 35,000 investments that can be found in the Biden Administration Investment Tracker. It may be updated to account for future project developments.

The Biden administration is investing more than $1.06 billion in a project to save a key connection between Minnesota and Wisconsin. More than 30,000 vehicles cross the Blatnik Bridge daily, with the bridge serving as an essential connection for interstate and international commerce. This project will rebuild the bridge, create jobs, and generate economic growth in the region.

Historical context

The Blatnik Bridge is a key pathway for commerce flowing through the region. “‘The Blatnik Bridge and its connections are essential to the efficient, safe flow of critical cargoes through our world port, both on the road and on the water. It’s a vital artery within the Upper Midwest supply chain, linking North America’s furthest-inland seaport and helping move the raw materials of everyday life,’ said Deb DeLuca, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.” – Office of Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), January 24, 2024 The current Blatnik Bridge is dangerous, ailing, and requires constant maintenance. “Bridge traffic currently lands on Hammond Avenue, making the exit dangerous, reducing speed from 55 MPH to 30 MPH. Ground freight and other traffic passing through the city is required to twist through an interchange to go south on Highway 53. … Originally constructed in 1958 and opened to traffic in 1961, the structure has a rust problem that can only be repaired. The bridge is currently reduced to single-lane traffic in both directions as it undergoes $6.3 million in regularly scheduled maintenance and repair.” – Roads & Bridges, July 14, 2022

Heavy trucks have been rerouted to other bridges because the Blatnik Bridge has deteriorated so much. “The Blatnik opened over the St. Louis Bay between Duluth and Superior in 1961 and carries an average of 33,000 vehicles per day. But it has been deteriorating for years, with heavy trucks rerouted to the Bong Bridge, and transportation officials warned it would be necessary to close the bridge entirely by 2030.” – Duluth News Tribune, March 4, 2024

Project summary

The $1.05 billion investment will save a vital 60-year-old bridge. “Wisconsin leaders are applauding U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s announcement that Wisconsin and Minnesota will receive an over $1.05 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace the 60-year-old Blatnik Bridge, which serves as a critical link between Duluth and Superior for Wisconsin travelers and the Made in Wisconsin economy.” – Office of Sen. Tammy Baldwin, January 24, 2024

More than half of the cost of the reconstruction is provided by President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and construction could begin by 2025. “The total cost for rebuilding the bridge is estimated to be $1.8 billion, according to the statement [from Wisconsin Gov. Tim Walz (D)]. Each state committed $400 million toward the project last year. Design work for the project, which will determine specifications and the (sic) shape the final project, is expected to begin this year. Once a final design is selected, construction could begin as early as next year.” – AP News, January 22, 2024

Funding originated from the Mega and INFRA grant programs. “The grants came out of the Mega and INFRA grant programs, which were designed to fund some of the nation’s largest and most challenging infrastructure projects.” – U.S. Department of Transportation on Medium, January 30, 2024

A new bridge design has been selected that will maximize efficient use of funds. “The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) chose a ‘Design-build’ process that will improve collaboration and possibly lower costs when construction begins on the John A. Blatnik Bridge, according to a memo to state lawmakers.” – The Daily Reporter, December 28, 2023

Outcomes, improvements, and practical impact

Preserving the bridge will maintain the transport of billions of dollars of goods. “Elected officials have said the bridge carries nearly 265,000 trucks that transport nearly $4 billion worth of goods, serving as a critical connection for the largest port on the Great Lakes.” – Wisconsin Public Radio, January 25, 2024

The new bridge will meet modern safety standards and reduce crash rates while offering options for cyclists and pedestrians. “The existing bridge is in poor condition, has high crash rates, and limits freight mobility due to weight limitations. This reconstruction project is being developed to update the structure to current standards, add bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and improve traffic operations.” – Minnesota Department of Transportation, last accessed February 2024

Without the new bridge, commuters and transit riders would face difficulties accessing work, schools, and health care. “This detour would add significant travel time for transit riders using the route through the duration of construction, impacting their ability to travel to work, education, healthcare, and other destinations. The route may be permanently suspended if the Blatnik Bridge were removed under the No Build Alternative.” – Minnesota Department of Transportation, last accessed February 2024

Without investment from the Biden administration, the 60-year-old bridge would have been shut down by 2030. “President Biden announced the investments on Thursday in Superior, WI, at the Blatnik Bridge, a project that will receive over $1 billion to replace the aging bridge that connects Wisconsin and Minnesota. Without these investments this bridge would have to be shut down by 2030.” – U.S. Department of Transportation on Medium, January 30, 2024

Climate impact

The selected site for the new bridge will have a smaller environmental impact and a greater cost-benefit ratio. “[The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Pat] Huston said the preferred alternative for bridge construction was selected despite a longer anticipated closure because the overall duration of the project is shorter. The choice will also have fewer wetland impacts require less permanent right-of-way and has a better cost-benefit ratio and a lower cost estimate.” – Superior Telegram, October 4, 2023

The project will have limited environmental and ecological impacts on nearby minority and low-income populations. “All other wildlife and ecological impacts would be generally constrained to the areas where piers will be installed in St. Louis Bay and are not anticipated to have an effect on the human environment or human health thus, no disproportionately high or adverse impacts to EJ [environmental justice] populations would occur.” – Minnesota Department of Transportation, last accessed February 2024

Racial equity and justice impact

The new bridge would offer necessary walking and bicycle access to nearby minority communities. “The project would improve the pedestrian and bicyclist environment in Superior’s North End neighborhood. … Because the North End neighborhood has a higher proportion of low-income and minority residents, and these groups are more likely to rely on walking and bicycling for transportation, project changes would largely benefit these groups.” – Minnesota Department of Transportation, last accessed February 2024

Economic impact

The rebuilding of the Blatnik Bridge will create jobs and drive new economic growth in the area. Sen. Tammy Baldwin: “This long overdue investment will create good-paying jobs, keep our Made in Wisconsin economy moving forward, and ensure this critical connector for Northern Wisconsin provides safe, reliable passage for decades to come.” – Office of Sen. Tammy Baldwin, January 24, 2024

The investment is estimated to support 10,000 jobs in a region that is home to the busiest port on the Great Lakes. “‘We’re talking about one of the most economically significant bridges in the country,’ [Secretary of Transportation Pete] Buttigieg said Monday. ‘We’re also talking about a critical facility that was potentially just a few years away from being out of service. So we understood the urgency of this and want to make sure, in a time of enormous controversy and negativity swirling out there, that a good story like this gets told.’ … The secretary said the DOT estimates the project will support 10,000 jobs in the region and pointed to the importance of the Port of Duluth-Superior as the busiest on the Great Lakes. The federal government, Buttigieg said, is often bogged down in ‘policies and statistics,’ but at its core is a mission to ‘make things a little easier for and create opportunity for people.’” – Duluth News Tribune, March 4, 2024

Thousands of jobs and billions of goods are supported by the bridge. “[Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Craig] Thompson said the bridge carries billions of dollars worth of goods from 42 states and nine Canadian provinces that support more than 8,200 jobs in the region.” – Wisconsin Public Radio, July 4, 2023

The new bridge will be key to empowering supply chains and improved transportation safety. “‘This investment will make it possible for Minnesota and Wisconsin to rebuild a critical connection between our states that will foster regional economic growth, strengthen our national supply chains, and improve the safety and reliability of our transportation network,’ Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement.” – AP News, January 22, 2024

Official supporting statements

President Joe Biden: “This investment is going to make a huge difference: less traffic, fewer car accidents, faster commutes to your jobs and schools, quicker response times from firetrucks and first responders when every minute counts. Goods are going to get shipped quicker, and commerce will flow more freely, instead of having to detour for up to 10 miles. Here’s what else it means. It means that 10,000 new construction jobs — union jobs … are going to be created.” – The White House, January 25, 2024

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson: “Thanks to Senator Baldwin’s leadership we have a tremendous opportunity to replace an aging piece of infrastructure critical to supporting and growing our state, regional and national economies … Our agency stands ready to work with our partners both federally and in Minnesota to deliver a new structure that will improve safety, economic impact and quality of life for people and industry in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Midwest for decades to come.” – Office of Sen. Tammy Baldwin, January 24, 2024

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz: “This is big news for Minnesota. This investment will make it possible for Minnesota and Wisconsin to rebuild a critical connection between our states that will foster regional economic growth, strengthen our national supply chains, and improve the safety and reliability of our transportation network … This is a project that will serve hundreds of communities between our states.” – CBS News, January 22, 2024