John A. Blatnik Bridge
The John A. Blatnik Bridge is the bridge that carries Interstate Highway 535 and U.S. Highway 53 over the Saint Louis Bay, a tributary of Lake Superior, between Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. The bridge is 7,975 feet (2,431 m) long and rises up nearly 120 feet (37 m) above the water to accommodate the seaway shipping channel. It was dedicated on December 2, 1961, but was renamed for Congressman John Blatnik on September 24, 1971, to commemorate Blatnik's role in making the bridge a reality. The Blatnik Bridge replaced a swinging toll bridge around the same location that carried both automobile and rail traffic. The bridge was widened and the substructure was strengthened between 1992 and 1993 to accommodate hard shoulders. The Blatnik Bridge was reduced to two lanes temporarily in 2008, after it was discovered in a bridge inspection that the 1990s upgrades to the Blatnik Bridge had added weight beyond the load limit for gusset plates in eight different locations. This was similar to the gusset plates that caused the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis to collapse on August 1, 2007. The Blatnik Bridge was reduced to two lanes temporarily in 2008 until the gusset plates could be strengthened. The Blatnik Bridge is also sometimes referred to as the "High Bridge" making the two major bridges connecting Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin the " Bong Bridge" and the "High Bridge."