Work on Duluth Lakewalk stops short at Lester River crossingObstacles to crossing the Lester River have pushed back plans to finish the Duluth Lakewalk’s eastward expansion to Brighton Beach another year.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Obstacles to crossing the Lester River have pushed back plans to finish the Duluth Lakewalk’s eastward expansion to Brighton Beach another year.
Project manager Matt Decur said the city had hoped to install a new bridge across the river just south of the existing railroad trestle before the snow flies. However, the design was rejected by members of the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority.
“It was squeezed in too tight for us to maintain good access to our bridge,” said Bob Manzoline, the authority’s director. He stressed the importance of having room to bring in heavy equipment to maintain and repair the bridge when necessary.
Working together with the rail authority, Decur said staff was able to come up with an alternate design for a Lakewalk bridge to be installed on the north side of the railroad trestle, upstream from a utility overpass and just below the Lester River Condominiums development.
Manzoline said members of the authority already have signed off on the new plan.
Because of the timing change and grant deadlines, the city had to shift some of the federal money it had received for the bridge to another component of the project — an underpass to get trail users across London Road and down to the lake. That underpass will be installed in front of the Environmental Protection Agency lab.
The redesigned bridge will need to be slightly bigger than the one initially proposed, but Manzoline estimated it would add only about 10 feet to its finished length.
Decur said the shifting of grant money and other costs have left the city about $520,000 short of what it will need to finish the bridge project. The bridge is expected to cost about $700,000.
Still, he said: “I’m confident we can find a way by next spring to get this done.”
Decur noted that the city has additional grant applications out, and it could consider bonding or tapping other sources of funding.
Duluth City Councilor Jennifer Julsrud, who represents the Lakeside and Lester Park neighborhoods, said her constituents are eager to see the path completed.
“I was really disappointed when I heard about the change in schedule,” she said. “It’s such an important connection for our end of town.”
She said the Lakewalk already is paying dividends in her district for businesses. Julsrud noted that many Lakeside and Lester Park business owners have reported increased traffic since the path arrived.
“I’m going to keep pushing for this extension because it’s important for the people who live out here and for all the people who use that trail,” Julsrud said.