Three Things You May Not Have Known About The Blatnik Bridge
With the impending eight week project to make repairs to the John A. Blatnik Bridge, many people are thinking about an object that they take for granted most days. As one of two (or three) main routes across the St. Louis River in the Twin Ports, the bridge sees a lot of vehicle traffic in an average day. Here are three items that you may not have known:
Built in 1960-1961, the Blatnik Bridge has reached the point where it's into the later years of its service life. While inspections have found it to be structurally-sound, MNDOT officials have taken the steps needed to help extend its life. One of those ways is through weight restrictions.
Since 2008, trucks over 40 short tons are not allowed to use the Blatnik Bridge. This is an effort to not add unnecessary weight to the structure; this is also the reason why you seldom see logging trucks or wide/heavy loads on the bridge. Drivers who violate the restrictions are ticketed by law enforcement.
If you're new to the area, you might not remember when the Blatnik Bridge was closed for two years. From 1992 to 1993, crews worked to widen the lanes of the bridge and strengthen the structure. New lighting was also added at the time.
It's no secret - but many people haven't taken the time to understand the history behind the name of the bridge. For the first ten years it was in use, the bridge operated without an official name. In 1971, MNDOT officials finally branded the bridge in honor of John A. Blatnik - a United States Representative that was born on the Iron Range in Chisholm. Blatnik first tought school in Chisholm, and then went on to serve 34 years as a legislator - first as a Minnesota Senator and then from 1947-1974 as a United States Representative. Blatnik was succeeded by his Chief of Staff Jim Oberstar.