In a budget presentation earlier this week, Jim Benning, director of Duluth's public works and utilities division, laid out the most ambitious plan to improve local streets city administration has ever brought forward.
In 2022, he said the city expects to improve 16.8 miles of road — nearly 39% more than staff expect to complete this year and more than Benning can ever recall. He noted that for the past few years the city has been dedicating more than $600,000 annually to complete work on a stretch of downtown Superior Street. With that work winding down, Benning said it will free up additional funding for other streets throughout the community.
Benning said city staff attempted to evenly distribute the work across the city, telling city councilors: "We did our best to use geographic equity." He noted that many of the projects also align with efforts to replace lead water service lines.
The road improvements will be funded, in large part, by a half-percent sales tax residents approved in November 2017, with more than three-quarters of voters casting ballots in support of the tax to be dedicated exclusively for city streets.
That same year, prior to the approval of the new tax-based revenue stream, Duluth had only enough money in its street budget to improve 2.5 miles of road.
In a statement, Mayor Emily Larson reflected on the successful referendum vote, saying: "This is a huge community accomplishment and something to really celebrate."
Benning said the half-percent sales tax is expected to generate about $7.25 million for city streets in 2022.
2022 road improvements
- Glenwood and Snively intersection
- Arrowhead Road
- Brighton Beach Road
- Lakewood Road
- 91st Avenue West (Idaho to Grace Street)
- Hilton (88th Avenue West to Falcon)
- Hilton (91st Avenue West to Idaho)
- Zimmerly Avenue (Commonwealth to Grand Avenue)
- 94th Avenue West (Zimmerly to Boyd Avenue)
- Boyd Avenue (93rd to dead end near 96th Avenue West
- 95th Avenue West (Zimmerly to Clyde)
- Clay Street (Vinland to Skyline)
- Skyline Parkway (24th Avenue West to Haines Road)
- Lincoln Park Drive (Third to First bridge)
- 11th Avenue West (First to Sixth Street)
- West First Street (Mesaba Avenue to Sixth Avenue East)
- First Avenue East, Mesaba Avenue to East Fourth Street)
- Seventh Street (Mesaba Avenue to Sixth Avenue East)
- Fourth Avenue East (Fourth Street to Central Entrance)
- Eighth Street (Fourth Avenue East to Fifth Avenue East)
- 10th Street (Fourth Avenue East to Fifth Avenue East)
- Fifth Avenue East (Seventh to 10th Street)
- Ridgewood Road (beginning at 34th Avenue East)
- Pinewood Lane (Crescent View Drive to East Third Street)
- East Third Street (Pinewood Lane to 37th Avenue East)
- East Fourth Street (from Pinewood Lane to 550 feet south)
- Melwood Avenue (Ridgewood Road to cul de sac)
- Crescent View Drive (from Pinewood Lane to 220 feet north)
- North 45th Avenue East (East Superior Street to London Road)
- Wyoming Street (51st to 52nd Avenue East)
- North 54th Avenue East (Glenwood to Superior Street)