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DULUTH — Rust and corrosion plague the Aerial Lift Bridge, and the 2,300 auditorium seats in the Duluth convention center's auditorium — the biggest performing arts space in the city — are from 1966.

The bridge and the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) are two of the city's most visible and popular tourism draws, and they need millions in repairs and updates. Projects to address them are among nine that city officials have prioritized as they lobby for state bonding money this year.

Duluth leaders have sought upgrades to the 500-foot-long historic Lift Bridge for years. It needs about $20 million in repairs, and the city is lobbying for $8.2 million to add to city funds and state and federal money.

Mayor Roger Reinert told a crowd gathered for Duluth and St. Louis County Days at the Capitol last month that the bridge is "iconic" for the entire state of Minnesota, along with being the only way to access "an entire neighborhood of Duluth."

That and the other projects prioritized by the city are core not only to Duluth but to the whole region, he said.

Average daily traffic crossing the bridge reaches more than 6,000 vehicles, and roughly 900 boats carrying 35 million short tons of freight pass underneath annually, city officials have said.

The bridge needs significant structural repairs to its lift span and overhead truss, and needs reconstruction of the cantilevered sidewalk, among other updates.

The DECC, home to Amsoil Arena and UMD Bulldog hockey, faces decades of deferred maintenance throughout its various venues. It was granted a $1 million line of credit from the city last fall to deal with low reserves, which it has not dipped into yet, Executive Director Dan Hartman said. Leaders laid off a handful of full-time employees and reduced hours for part-time workers last fall.

Because it's a state convention center that serves an entire region instead of being a city entity like convention centers in Rochester or Mankato, city officials don't always advocate for it, Hartman said, and problems have piled up.

The DECC is asking for $6.2 million to pay for projects including the Symphony Hall seating and re-worked auditorium space for people with disabilities. It also needs a new escalator and replacement of faulty pipe fittings, which force the DECC to run 190-degree water through the building's lines continuously. The repairs would reduce the complex's heating costs by 40%.

"We're just trying to get the [complex] back to normal, because it just hasn't had the support that a facility like this would have," Hartman said of the nine venues that fall under the DECC's realm.

The tourism hub drives traffic to town that boosts the city's economy, with visitors and convention-goers eating in restaurants, staying in hotels and paying to see attractions, Hartman said. If it falls further into disrepair, he said, it could also hurt other businesses.

Duluth is also lobbying for these projects:

• $6.7 million for upgrades and improvements at the water treatment plant, which has a pumphouse more than 100 years old

• Nearly $11 million for Lot D rehabilitation, to support preparation of the polluted waterfront site for economic development

• $7 million to support redevelopment of the Duluth Armory

• $25 million to aid construction of a Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing aircraft shelter

• $15 million for a new community center and sports arena in West Duluth

• Funding to redo a plan formed by former Mayor Emily Larson's administration for replacement of the downtown Duluth Public Library

• $14 million to help replace the Duluth International Airport's control tower