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Northland Road Construction Announced

Posted at: 03/27/2013 7:06 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

The Minnesota Department of Transportation revealed the year's road construction plans on Wednesday, and $126 million will be spent on projects in Northeastern Minnesota.

Engineers announced details about the projects in one of the biggest budget years in recent memory.

“Over a hundred million dollars is of our bigger programs that we've ever had. Last year we were slightly more than $126 million, but we're right in the same range as last year's construction program,” District Engineer Duane Hill said.

Hill said much of the money is going to repair damage from June's flooding.

Highway 210 was hit hard, and devastation remains in the Jay Cooke State Park. Mn/DOT will spend $4 million dollars to build a bridge over a large washout. The new bridge will let park visitors reach the popular Oldenburg Point, but beyond that four miles of highway could remain closed.

“The cost to repair that road is really significant, and we want to have a public discussion about what are the values, what are the economic impacts of whether we rebuild the road or not,” Hill said.

He said the road could become a multi-use trail if it is too expensive to rebuild. Mn/DOT will hold public meetings to gather input later this spring.

Meanwhile, reconstruction of I-35 will slow traffic coming in and out of Duluth. Workers will tear up a stretch from Boundary Ave. to Esko.

“You're going to be on a single lane for about five miles on the freeway. We were very fortunate last year we didn't have a lot of backups, and we expect it will go pretty well this year,” Project Supervisor Jim Sorenson said.

The road construction is bound to slow traffic in the Northland, but officials said the work means safer roads come fall.

Engineers said the construction projects will begin in may, and the work will continue until fall on most projects in the region.