Construction of Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge Is Making the News in a Fairly Big Way

Proposed 2012 budget issues are restricting cuts to staff currently working on Duluth’s Aerial Lift bridge. The bridge is one of Duluth’s most significant landmark, the first of two of its kind constructed in the United States. First built in 1905, the bridge has undergone several upgrades – the latest of which is occurring to ensure better structural support.

The result of the latest construction efforts on the Aerial Lift bridge have resulted in commuter interruptions, including less passage for transport boats and other ships underneath. Now, Duluth city officials are proposing budget cuts that would result in less staff working on construction and upgrading of the bridge next year.

Bridge upgrades are scheduled to continue throughout 2012, and staff, foremen and officials who are part of construction fear that less workers mean less safety on the job for those who won’t be cut.

Bridge operators are staunchly opposed to cuts, which would eliminate part of the 9 member workforce that currently monitor and perform Aerial Lift bridge upgrade operations. Key staff are concerned that an accident could affect a working member of the crew, crew of a ship crossing below the bridge, or even pedestrians on the bridge.

City officials feel that the budget cuts leave an adequate amount of funding left over for 2012 to perform upgrades on the Aerial Lift bridge, and cite other major bridge operations in the US which have only one functioning crewmen on the bridge at any one time. City officials claim that accidents can happen regardless of the size of operation or crew members preset on the Aerial Lift bridge. Some officials feel that reducing crew will not interrupt safe operations of the bridge upgrade.

The last word will come from Duluth city council, who are expected to vote on the proposed budget cuts in an upcoming meeting. Naturally, all involved want to do what’s in the best interest of workers and those who use the bridge for transportation. Duluth officials will take into consideration the assurance of safety on the Aerial Lift bridge, along with the amount of workers and the money necessary to continue the safe operations of the upgrade.

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