Monday, August 7

Bergson’s Next Boondoggle?

Duluth’s star-crossed Mayor, Herb Bergson, has proposed the construction of a major bridge over Lake Superior between Two Harbors and Ashland, Wisconsin. The proposed bridge would be paid for by the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA). The construction of the bridge comes after a city-hired analyst recommended it as the best method for increasing tourism.

Nick Bich is the consultant working on the proposal. Bich explained, “The bridge would really increase the amount of time that tourists could spend in Duluth. Right now, most people coming to the northland want to visit both the north and south shores of the lake. They spend most of their time driving all the way around Duluth to get there – not to mention the time wasted driving through the unfortunate burgh of Superior. My study indicates that this bridge will result in an increase of 22% in Duluth’s gross tourism revenues, primarily coming from a 34% increase in the amount of time available for tourists to spend in Duluth.”

The proposed bridge would reach up to 200 feet in height in several locations in order to permit passage of the larger lake and ocean-going vessels traveling on Lake Superior. Bridges such as this are not uncommon, found in locales such as the Florida Keys, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The direct distance between Two Harbors and Ashland is 45.8 miles, resulting in bridge with a staggering price tag of $4.8 billion. However, it will save approximately 3 hours driving time for most tourists. DEDA believes it’s economic situation will permit it to pay back the cost of the bridge in only 35 years.

Critics have already pounced on Bergson’s proposal as ludicrous. Some have dubbed the bridge “Bich’s Bamboozle.” Pat Awada, from the Minnesota State Office of the Auditor and Tourism, was quoted as saying, “This bridge is yet another example of Duluth’s propensity to throw money down the drain. There is an $82 billion retiree shortfall that is currently unfunded, and still this city ignores its plight. It will unquestionably soon declare bankruptcy – and it won’t be my fault. Bergson and the city are both morally bankrupt. Why shouldn’t the bank account follow their moral lead?”

Mayor Bergson denied claims that the bridge will be of greatest use to him. Bergson owns a vacation home on a golf course in Two Harbors and a lake cottage in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Bergson’s response? “If this bridge was going to serve me personally, wouldn’t I have just had it land in Bayfield instead of Ashland?” The City Council will debate the merits of Bich’s consulting study at Tuesday’s Council meeting.