Duluth’s aerial lift bridge — which goes up and down whenever a boat wants to enter the harbor, stopping vehicle traffic on the roadway between Canal Park and Park Point — may be in for a new schedule that will mean small boats may have to wait.
City officials have preliminary approval from the Coast Guard to start opening the bridge twice an hour — on the hour and the half hour, between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day — for small vessels, rather than the current on-demand, 24-hours-a-day lifting.
The bridge would still open on signal for all vessels from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and at all times for federal, state and local government vessels used for public safety, vessels in distress, commercial vessels engaged in rescue or emergency salvage operations, vessels engaged in pilot duties, vessels seeking shelter from severe weather, and all commercial vessels 300 gross tons or greater.
Officials say the proposed change will be a “temporary deviation from federal regulations to help improve vehicular traffic flow, relieve traffic congestion and improve access and response times for emergency responders.”
Mayor Don Ness said:
“This is a common sense solution. By limiting the number of lifts in a given hour we are improving public safety, improving traffic flow, and reducing wear and tear on the mechanics of the Bridge. I want to thank the Coast Guard, Park Point residents, and City staff who have been working on this proposal.”
The City Council will discuss the plan April 26, and if approved, it will begin May 3 for a test period through October.