There was quite the ruckus about the snarl of traffic in Canal Park today.  It's the height of the tourist season and it seems that the Aerial Lift Bridge was down to one lane to be cleaned.  One would wonder why it has to be done now.  After talking with Aerial Lift Bridge Supervisor, Dave Campbell, it was more than "just a cleaning" and it makes perfect sense.

Dave started off our conversation by offering an apology to those that were delayed or inconvenienced.  He explained  that a company from the twin cities was hydro-blasting the bridge roadway. That consists of clean off portions of the roadway deck, with a very high pressure washer ( 10,000 PSI ).  This is different than what would be considered a normal spring cleaning.  That is done to remove dirt and salt from the roadway framework. This more extensive type of pressure washing is needed to allow engineers from LHB to inspect the condition of the roadway structure.  Very important and necessary preventative maintenance to prevent a major failure of the roadway in the future.

We asked why this couldn't be done at a time when traffic is at a minimum, for instance at night?  Dave says, "Logistically, that is very difficult to do, we would not be able to provide enough light to ensure a proper inspection and there are extra costs to consider in performing this type of work at night".  The inspections need to take place now so if an area of concern needs to be addressed, they have time to get everything in place to do any major work during the winter shipping season shutdown.

The Aerial Lift Bridge staff and the City of Duluth know this causes congestion in the area around the bridge and do everything possible to ensure the traffic runs as smoothly as possible. Obviously, this type of work is difficult to do while still trying to keep the roadway passable as well as marine traffic moving and pedestrians safe. Because safety is their number one concern (which is why the bridge is being pressure washed in the first place), they are asking for your patience with the workers and bridge operators who are doing their best to keep everything moving and still be able to provide the best possible inspection of our iconic Aerial Lift  Bridge.

The work will continue early tomorrow morning, Wednesday, July 13 with one lane traffic during this time. The east lane (headed to downtown) will be closed meaning that two way traffic will be managed by traffic lights. They are anticipating the work to be completed  sometime before Noon.  Please allow additional travel time.