The little brother bridge, a troublemaker

Workers attend to the blue pedestrian bridge over Minnesota Slip on a cold March day. The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge stands in the background.

Everybody loves the good-looking and charming Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge but few know about a troublesome little brother named Blue.

It’s a strange relationship.

The mighty Aerial Lift Bridge guards the Duluth ship canal like an all-state goalie protects a hockey net. Nothing gets past this thing without a couple of foghorn blasts. The bridge is featured in TV commercials, poses with all the fans and never misses a game.

A teacher’s pet, a beauty queen, an Oscar winner and an MVP all stacked up into one great grey symbol of the city.

Blue on the other hand is the mischievous runt.

Blue hangs out at the Minnesota Slip, a toxic back-water where old ships go to prostitute themselves for tourists. He harasses pedestrians, begs for money and frequently fails to show up for work.

It seems Blue was bad the day he was born back in 1991.

“It wasn’t designed well to begin with,” one city official told the Duluth New Tribune.

In 2015, Blue suffered “mechanical failures” that rendered him inoperable for 32 days. He blamed bad weather for not showing up to work another 10 times.

Bridges shouldn’t get “snow days.”

But like a frustrated and desperate parent, the city of Duluth will do anything to save its lost child. Blue is now undergoing a $3 million stint in rehab.

I’m not sure what was going on with Blue in the picture above. Perhaps he was passed out again. The cold winter just too much for his fragile bones.

I felt sorry for the workers, crawling round atop his arms while heavy March winds roared off the ice-strewn harbor. It was like watching an EMT trying to talk someone off the ledge of a tall building. No one signs up for this kind of stuff.

Maybe they can cure Blue. Maybe he will straighten up and do what’s right. But it’s going to take a lot of rehab and a lot of taxpayer money.

And is it worth it?

After all, Blue will never measure up to his wonderful big brother.

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