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Duluth's lift bridge, training programs to benefit from federal aid

U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar announced funding for multiple Northland initiatives.

Aerial Lift Bridge
The Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park is lit at dusk. The bridge is slated to receive $500,000 in federal support to improve its pedestrian walkways.
2007 file / Duluth News Tribune
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WASHINGTON — Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge and other Northland projects will be getting a boost from the federal government soon, thanks to congressionally directed spending.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tina Smith, D-Minn., announced Thursday that they have secured funding for the bridge, while also expanding housing opportunities and workforce development programs in sectors facing critical shortages.

“From improving the Aerial Lift Bridge to helping students pursue medical training programs, these projects will address key issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with local leaders to secure these investments, and I know that these resources will make a real difference for Duluth and so many communities across the North Shore,” Klobuchar said in a news release.

“These investments are a big win for Duluth and the North Shore. From key infrastructure improvements like bolstering pedestrian safety on the Aerial Lift Bridge and fixing Beaver Bay’s water system, to workforce development and expanding housing and shelter resources, these projects are going to have a real, positive impact on people’s lives,” Smith said in the news release. “I’m proud of the work we did to bring this funding to Northeastern Minnesota.”

In all, $500,000 has been set aside to modernize and strengthen pedestrian walkways on the Aerial Lift Bridge’s underlying steel support system. Another $432,000 will go to repair and replace water intake infrastructure in Beaver Bay.

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On the housing front, $2 million in federal funding will go to CHUM to increase the capacity of the Duluth organization’s congregate shelter, helping more people meet their basic needs and find suitable long-term housing.

Supervised camps could arrive in the city yet this summer.

Additional funds will be dedicated to workforce development, with $108,000 going to Wilderness Health in Two Harbors to accelerate development of workforce training and education programs in four critical shortage areas: nursing, radiology, ultrasounds and laboratory technicians.

“I am incredibly grateful to our U.S. senators and to Sen. Klobuchar and her staff for prioritizing Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge for Congressionally Directed Spending,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson in a written statement. “The iconic lift bridge is the symbol of Duluth known worldwide, and these funds will assist us in ensuring its longevity toward supporting our international port, our city and our region.”

The collaborative of Northland health care providers earned the 2022 Minnesota Rural Health Team Award because of its contribution to improving rural health care in the state.

“The city of Beaver Bay would like to thank Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Smith, and their staff for their assistance in obtaining funding for our water intake repair project,” said Beaver Bay Mayor Tom Gmach in the news release. “The city has spent five years searching for funding to address issues with our fresh water supply that serves the 120 residents and approximately 3 million North Shore visitors per year.

"The city struggled with qualifying for funding due to the large number of seasonal residents. This funding will allow us to make the needed repairs which will assure a safe and healthy water supply to residents and visitors to our small city.”

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