2 March 2022
DULUTH — President Joe Biden is scheduled to give an invitation-only talk about the $1 trillion infrastructure law during an afternoon speech today at the University of Wisconsin-Superior — a speech that will address needed repairs to the Blatnik Bridge.
He and First Lady Jill Biden are expected to arrive at the Duluth International Airport in the late morning, according to a news release from the White House. Among those traveling with the Bidens on Air Force One: Both Minnesota senators — Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith — and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin Democrat, as well as U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.
The more than 60-year-old Blatnik Bridge, a connector between Duluth and Superior that already has load restrictions, will likely need significant repairs to its trusses in the next 10-15 years. It is one of the 979 bridges and 661 bridges in Minnesota described as being in poor condition.
The infrastructure law will give Minnesota an estimated $4.8 billion and Wisconsin an estimated $5.4 billion for roads and bridges over the next five years.
The visit follows Biden’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, an hour-long speech that expressed support for the Ukraine and a promise to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his actions.
“He thought he could roll into Ukraine, and the world would roll over,” Biden said. “Instead, he met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.”
Biden vowed to address inflation by getting prices under control and acknowledged the toll of COVID-19.
“And I know you’re tired, frustrated and exhausted,” he said. “That doesn’t even count the close to a million people who sit at a dining room table or a kitchen table looking at an empty chair because they lost somebody. But I also know this. Because of the progress we’ve made, because of your resilience and the tools that we have been provided by this Congress, tonight I can say we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines.”
Biden’s most recent trip to Minnesota was in November 2021 when he visited the heavy machine shop at Rosemount’s Dakota County Technical College. He has visited Duluth and surrounding communities in recent years, but it has been a decade since he stopped in Superior.
Donald Trump campaigned in Superior in 2016 and John F. Kennedy was a senator in 1960 when he visited.
The last sitting president to visit Superior appears to be President Calvin Coolidge, who turned Superior Central Middle School into a summer White House in 1928.