Decision keeps bridge lights on
By: Mik, Superior Telegram
A tentative agreement has been reached to keep the decorative lighting on the Blatnik Bridge. The question is: Will it be the same as now or more like the Aerial Lift Bridge “wash” lighting that illuminates the whole span?
Until that decision is made, the big news is that the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation will split the $1.2 million cost. MnDOT Project Development Engineer Dan Erickson says the money will come out of the transportation programs of each state.
“We have at least a verbal agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to be partners with the replacement cost of the lighting, which will each fund 50% of the total capital replacement costs,”?he said.
Erickson says the $1.2 million figure includes new lighting and wiring. The current decorative lighting outlining the span is almost 20 years old and will be removed during the Blatnik Bridge two-year construction project which began this week.
“That would not entail any salvaging of the existing system,” Erickson said. “But as we move through the scoping of the project, we’re looking to salvage some of the light fixtures. That would reduce the costs.”
Erickson says the public response to keep the decorative lighting was overwhelming.
“It’s a part of Duluth-Superior and the area,” he said. “We’ve become accustomed to the landmark structure and having it lit up in the decorative manner to kind of showcase our cities at night. Yeah. There’s support out there.”
The choice between the current “outline” lighting and Aerial Lift Bridge-style “wash” lighting will be made depending on the cost and feedback from the public at an open house they hope to hold this July.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Power is making energy efficiency recommendations that will reduce the operating costs. Right now the electrical costs are about $300 a month for the decorative lighting with annual maintenance expenses at $10,000 to $15,000.
Detours on the reconstruction of the Blatnik Bridge began this week with the Duluth-bound traffic lane closed and detoured to the Bong Bridge.