Bridge opens on Jean Duluth Road 6 months after floodThe opening Monday of a new bridge on a section of Jean Duluth Road that was washed out by the June flood was good news for nearby residents and businesses.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
The opening Monday of a new bridge on a section of Jean Duluth Road that was washed out by the June flood was good news for nearby residents and businesses.
“Our customers were very, very frustrated with the detour and how long it was closed,” said Kelly Mattson, owner of Kelly J’s New Home Sewing Center on Jean Duluth Road. “They’ll be very happy when it’s open.”
The section of road, one mile south of Zimmerman Road, north of Duluth, had been impassible for the past six months as crews constructed a bridge to replace the road and culvert that had caved in. During construction, detours added miles to motorists’ routes.
That road site previously passed over a culvert, through which the Lester River flowed. Before the storm, an average of 4,100 motorists traveled it each day, according to the St. Louis County Public Works Department.
The new bridge, designed by LHB Engineers and Architects, has 12-foot-wide lanes and eight-foot shoulders. It was built with concrete beams, concrete deck and metal railings.
During the road closure, the county put up signs directing people to Kelly J’s, so Mattson said she doesn’t know how many customers she lost during the road closure.
“Some customers followed detour signs,” she said. “Some tried to follow GPS, which got them lost to no end. Some added six miles to their journey. And then there were those customers who said they wouldn’t come to my store until they opened the road again.”
News of the bridge’s opening also was welcomed by D.G. Solem and Sons on Jean Duluth Road, a mile north of the bridge.
“We’re pretty happy,” said Leone Solem. “It’s about a four-mile difference in the route our guys take to go out on jobs.”
And it’s been just as far for those delivering furnaces to the family heating and sheet metal business, she said.
Construction of the bridge was significantly accelerated, according to the county.
“To see this bridge completed in less than seven months is simply unheard of,” Jim Foldesi, director of public works, said in a statement. “From conception to completion, a project of this magnitude typically takes three to four years.”
As an extra bonus, the bridge opened 10 days ahead of schedule.
Foldesi credited the department and the contractors for the fast work on the project. Redstone Construction Co. of Mora, Minn., was the lead contractor.
Word was slowly getting out Monday afternoon that the bridge was open. The workers at D.G. Solem and Sons didn’t find out until late afternoon, after they had taken the longer detours.
“The guys didn’t take that way, because they didn’t expect the bridge to be open,” Solem said.
The bridge project cost about $1 million, with 80 percent of the cost covered by Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief money, and the rest by state flood bonding.
Some finishing touches remaining will be done in late spring while the bridge is open.
“It’s been a big inconvenience,” Mattson said. “We’re thrilled that it’s open.”