Coloring Lift Bridge lights more than flip of a switch

One of Duluth’s most recognizable structures is shining a light on public awareness for a number of important causes.

The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge occasionally changes the color of its lighting scheme to represent a specific cause.

“People like to see it in different colors; it’s nice to see a change,” said Dave Campbell, the Aerial Lift Bridge supervisor.

In September the bridge was lit teal to represent Ovarian Cancer Awareness. You can expect to see the bridge lit up with pink lights this October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

All lighting work and alterations must be done by qualified and licensed lighting professionals. The teal lighting scheme was fixed by a foundation for ovarian cancer called Charlene’s Light.  Charlene’s Light worked with Duluth Event Lighting, who supplied a series of LED lights. The lights were attached to boards, which were then mounted and shined up onto the bridge.

For a charitable cause to have the lights changed on the bridge, organizations must submit an application to the city of Duluth. Applicants must provide a detailed written request that includes the date, time and lighting scheme for the bridge. Applications are then reviewed by Jim Benning, the city’s director of public works, and Daniel Fanning, its communications and policy director.

City officials recognize that the bridge is a visual symbol of the city of Duluth and that it can play a helpful role in raising awareness to a number of causes. However, as stated in the bridge lighting application, “The bridge is a 100-plus-year-old piece of working equipment that is vital to the local shipping industry -- a regional economic driver.” As the Aerial Lift Bridge supervisor, it is Campbell’s job to notify the Coast Guard when the lighting scheme is changed.

“I need to contact the Coast Guard in Cleveland and let them know that the bridge is going to be a different color,” Campbell said. “They’ll put out a notice to mariners that, when they come up to the Aerial Lift Bridge, it’s going to be a different color than normal.”

Enger Tower, another popular structure in Duluth, can also change its lighting scheme in representation of a specific cause. Enger Tower projected teal lighting at the same time as the Aerial Lift Bridge. The process of changing the lighting scheme at Enger Tower is less complicated than the Lift Bridge.

“It is much easier for people to light Enger Tower,” said Cari Pederson, chief engineer of transportation for the city of Duluth. “It has a new lighting system with LEDs and takes a push of a button.”

If you know of an organization that would like to raise awareness by coloring the Aerial Lift Bridge, contact the City of Duluth for more information.

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