Despite Some Melting, Still Too Much Ice on Lift Bridge

Updated: December 04, 2019 06:05 PM

Warm temps and the sun meant major melting off of the Aerial Lift Bridge on Wednesday. But the city said there's still too much ice on it to lift properly. So de-icing will resume on Thursday.


Crews couldn't do the de-icing with hot water on Wednesday because of the falling ice. 

They did perform a test lift, and found the bridge motors are still drawing too many amps due to the excessive weight.

Mother Nature's wrath from the blizzard has coated the Aerial Lift Bridge with ice, making it too heavy for the motors to lift. Bridge supervisor Dave Campbell believes it's a first for the bridge. "We're kind of in new territory here," he shared.

So after some brainstorming, crews in Duluth decided to get the ice off using extremely hot water from the steam plant. They started their work around noon on Tuesday. "We believe this is going to work," Campbell said. "We are going to shoot it as far up as we can."

Although the bridge was able to move some on Tuesday, the city said the de-icing will continue on Wednesday morning. 

Traffic is stopped in roughly 15 minute increments for the de-icing. Park Point residents lined up to wait their turn. Dave Haavik was with his dog, Willie. "Well, they've gotta get it cleaned off, for sure. To get the bridge operating. They're letting us through, too," he said.

The shipping industry is anxiously awaiting the bridge fix. Jayson Hron, director of marketing and communications for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, told us, "It certainly is a disappointment. The weather is taking a toll on everyone. This is one more way it's taking its toll."

We are nearing the end of the shipping season, so it's a race to the finish line for vessels. The only alternative is using the Superior entry, which Hron said comes with its own challenges like being an hour longer for some trips and more shallow.

As for the bridge problem, he added, "It tests everyone's patience. But we'll get through it."


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