Duluth Radisson to remain closed at least until Saturday

Duluth's Radisson hotel was closed this evening and could remain that way through the weekend after a water main break left part of the hotel's basement flooded and forced the evacuation of its 80 guests.

Skywalk tunnel flooded
The skywalk tunnel between the Radisson Hotel and the Duluth Public Library was flooded the night of Wednesday, March 13, 2013, after a water main broke during a planned repair project. (Jaime DeLage /

Duluth's Radisson hotel was closed this evening and could remain that way through the weekend after a water main break left part of the hotel's basement flooded and forced the evacuation of its 80 guests.

"We're assessing the electrical situation," Radisson general manager Jeff Briner said late Thursday afternoon. "We won't have any guests tonight and possibly through the weekend."

At best, the hotel could reopen on Saturday, Briner said.

The water main break, which affected the hotel's water-service line under Superior Street, occurred about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Briner said. The hotel's guests were relocated to either the Holiday Inn or the Sheraton -- both also downtown -- by 11 p.m., he said.

The Radisson has 268 guest rooms.


"The Holiday Inn and the Sheraton were very accommodating and very helpful," Briner said.

The break occurred during a planned repair project and also flooded the skywalk tunnel under the street between the hotel and the Duluth Public Library.

The library was not affected, manager Carla Powers said. Electricity was off at the library early Thursday morning, but it was restored well before the library's 10 a.m. opening time. There didn't appear to be any damage, she said.

Water in the skywalk tunnel was about 6 inches to a foot deep at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The tunnel remained closed late on Thursday but is expected to reopen within the next couple of days, city spokesman Daniel Fanning said. The walls were damaged, but not extensively, he said.

However, the elevator on the Radisson side of the tunnel was flooded out, and that repair job will take longer, Fanning said. The elevator is part of the city skywalk system, and the repairs will be the city's responsibility, he added.

Jonathan Dugan, 24, of Indianapolis was one of the guests who had to change hotels. He said he got word about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday that he would have to move from the Radisson to the Sheraton Hotel, eight blocks farther east.

Dugan said he's one of about 30 construction workers at AAR Aircraft Services who are staying at the Radisson and were relocated to the Sheraton Wednesday night. He was contacted while he was at work, he said, and had the opportunity to move his luggage out of the Radisson.


Dugan, who has been in Duluth a little more than a month and expects to stay until May, was philosophical about the disruption.

"I like the Sheraton Hotel," he said.

Radisson staffers have been notifying guests who had reservations, Briner said.

Gerry Goldfarb, general manager of the Holiday Inn in downtown Duluth, said guests from the Radisson began arriving at about 11 p.m. Wednesday.

"We're definitely trying to help them out any way we can," he said. "Any guest coming to Duluth is important to all of us."

Goldfarb said the local inventory of hotel rooms should prove sufficient to accommodate everyone, given the timing of the misfortune.

"If this would have happened last weekend during the robotics competition, it would have been much tougher," he observed. "Any time a large hotel like that goes down, you feel it."

Howard Jacobson, city of Duluth water and gas supply manager, said the line that spewed the water was not a city line but the hotel's own service line running into the building. Jacobson said it appears a private contractor replacing the service somehow severed the line, triggering the flood of water and cutting off water to the hotel.


Jacobson said city crews were dispatched to shut off the water main but otherwise are not involved. No other customers were affected, he said.

Officials on the scene Wednesday night said the planned work under Superior Street was largely done when the water main broke. The Duluth Fire Department responded to the scene to help deal with the flooding. No injuries were reported.

The Fire Department also reported a water main break near the corner of Third Avenue West and Second Street overnight.

The water washed down Third Avenue, dislodging bricks and spreading gravel across the street down as far as Superior Street. Crews were on the scene cleaning up the mess Thursday morning.

A Continuing Legal Education seminar that had been scheduled to take place in the Radisson this morning has been moved a few blocks away to the Holiday Inn, said Grant Davies, an administrator for the Twin Cities-based organization. Attendees will be met at the doors of the Radisson and told about the shift, Davies said.

The Rotary Club of Duluth, which has offices in the Radisson and meets on Thursdays at the hotel, moved its meeting to the Holiday Center, club member Larry Fortner said.

"There has been good teamwork," Briner said. "It has been very smooth. The customers were very understanding. It's something that they know couldn't be helped."

News Tribune staff writers Peter Passi and Andrew Krueger contributed to this report.


Water main break
Crews work on a water main break outside the Duluth Radisson Hotel late Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Robin Washington /

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