An estimated $1.8 billion plan to replace a major bridge connecting Superior and Duluth will receive a $400 million boost under Wisconsin’s next two-year state budget.
This December will mark 62 years since the bridge first opened, and it needs to be replaced due to its deteriorating condition. It has been under load restrictions due to age, rust and corrosion on its primary trusses. The bridge also poses a safety risk because its crash rates are 7 to 10 times higher than the statewide averages in Wisconsin and Minnesota respectively.
The Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Transportation are still weighing two options for the project. One alignment would reconstruct the bridge along its existing route, and the other would run slightly westward across the St. Louis River that separates Duluth and Superior. Transportation officials will gather public input on a preferred alternative sometime this fall.
Transportation officials now hope to begin construction in 2027, but it could begin in 2026 if funding becomes available. Wisconsin and Minnesota sought $889.5 million in federal funding under the bipartisan infrastructure law to help pay for the project, but it wasn’t funded in the first round of grants. However, the states are continuing to seek financial support through the Bridge Investment Program, according to Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson.
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.