Fresh off his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden today held up an aging bridge he visited ahead of a speech on the UW–Superior campus as an example of projects that will be funded through the bipartisan infrastructure law.
Biden said the John A. Blatnik Memorial Bridge in Superior is in trouble “for the same reasons” a bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed just hours before the president’s January visit there to discuss infrastructure.
The 1.5-mile bridge is one of two bridges connecting the city to Duluth, Minn. The bridge has an outdated design and has deteriorated since it opened 61 years ago, Biden said.
“The bridge is 61 years old and at the end of its useful life, the corrosion over the years has lowered the weight it can sustain and safely handle,” Biden said.
The infrastructure law invests $110 billion in roads, bridges and major projects, with $5.4 billion funneled toward Wisconsin highways and bridges. Funds will be used under the bipartisan infrastructure law to modernize the bridge.
Gordon Smith, vice president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 106, praised Biden for investing in infrastructure.
“For many years, those of us in the building and construction trades have heard the promise of massive infrastructure investment, but those promises were never kept,” Smith said. “President Joe Biden and his team have finally delivered on that promise.”
Biden also highlighted components of the law to replace lead pipes and expand internet access.
“The days of having to pull your child up outside of McDonald’s to do their homework because there’s no internet in your home and no internet in your region end when we provide affordable, high-speed internet to every American; urban, rural, suburban, tribal,” Biden said.
The president was accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, Gov. Tony Evers, first lady Kathy Evers, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Mark Pocan. Pocan made the trip though his mother, Corinne, passed away last night at 93 years old.
This was Biden’s third trip to Wisconsin as president. His first official visit was for a CNN town hall in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, 2021, and the second was to La Crosse on June 29.
According to a White House press pool report, several dozen Trump supporters were grouped together at the UW–Superior campus entrance with Trump and “f*ck Joe Biden” flags before Biden spoke.
GOP U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil and Tom Tiffany blasted President Biden for touting his Build Back Better plan instead of working to stop rising gas prices, violent crime and other issues.
Tiffany, of Minocqua, and GOP colleague U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, of Minn., in a joint press release said they support funding the Great Lakes and the Twin Ports of Superior and Duluth, but added the infrastructure package is a “Trojan Horse for the Democrats’ big-spending socialist agenda.”
Stauber and Tiffany called out the president for high inflation and for canceling federal leases with Twin Metals. The leases would give the company access to minerals to build an underground mine that environmental advocates argued would put the Boundary Waters at risk.
“It is insulting that President Biden is visiting the very region in which he recently killed the prospect of thousands of good paying union jobs through his cancellation of the Twin Metals Leases,” they said.
The GOP Reps said Biden should “create jobs, not kill them.”
Steil in a statement before Biden’s remarks said that the president should be addressing violent crime, inflation, the southern border, “global instability” and domestic energy instead of touting a bill that passed last year.
“Considering our ever rising gas and home heating costs, it’s unfortunate that President Biden did not take this opportunity to focus on domestic energy infrastructure,” the Janesville Republican said.
The League of Conservation Voters did a digital ad in Superior and the surrounding areas calling to “finish the job” on the climate investments in Build Back Better. A spokesman said the group spent less than $10,000 on the spot and is looking to add to it in other Wisconsin markets in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee placed digital ads on the Superior Telegram’s website today knocking U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, for refusing to “fix Wisconsin roads and bridges.”
Watch video of Biden’s address here.