Duluth's Canal Park pedestrian bridge slips up, againCanal Park’s pedestrian bridge was back in operation Monday afternoon after being out of commission since Sunday morning.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
DULUTH — Canal Park’s pedestrian bridge was back in operation Monday afternoon after being out of commission since Sunday morning.
The problem was the brakes that hold the Minnesota Slip Bridge in place when raised, said Jim Benning, Duluth’s public works director.
“They weren’t holding properly, so the safe, prudent thing to do was to lock it in the up position,” he said of the closure that sent pedestrians on a multiblock detour in hot, muggy weather.
David Ceryes, a Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge operator, said he worked on the pedestrian bridge a bit Sunday but had to abandon the task because the Lift Bridge was too busy with the tall ships’ visit and a maritime festival under way. The Lift Bridge staff maintains both bridges.
On Monday, Ceryes was back working on the pedestrian bridge. He took the brake apart, cleaned and adjusted it and put it back. That did the trick.
The malfunction of the pedestrian bridge linking Canal Park with the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and Bayfront arose during one of the biggest event weekends of the summer. The Reggae and World Music Festival was going on in Bayfront Festival Park, the Duluth Music and Maritime Festival in Canal Park and the Duluth Kennel Club’s annual dog show was at the DECC.
The ill-timing didn’t surprise officials.
“The bridge has a long history of breaking down, typically during one of the busiest weekends,” Benning said. “There’s always something that needs to get fixed on that bridge. It’s going to break again in the next year. It’s a given. I just can’t tell you when.”
With the Slip Bridge closed, pedestrians were sent blocks out of their way down Harbor Drive and past the Red Lobster restaurant.
“Some were very, very upset,” said Gene Shaw of Visit Duluth. “Some people never knew it didn’t work. I don’t think there was an impact on the dog show, just a big inconvenience.”
Although inconvenient, people will accept that the apparatus sometimes breaks and needs repair, Benning said. “It’s when it gets into multiple days, weeks that it becomes frustrating for businesses and tourists.”
Nearby Canal Park businesses contacted reported little impact from the bridge closing, in part because the maritime festival was on the Canal Park side of the bridge.
Angie Dormanen, manager of Bellisio’s Italian Restaurant, said the eatery wasn’t affected at all.
“We had a wonderful weekend and had a very busy lunch today,” she said Monday. “The ships still being here must be bringing people down here today as well.”