April storm increases damage repair costs
The price tag to repair the Lakewalk has increased, thanks to Mother Nature's fury earlier this month. The damage to Duluth's shoreline caused by the April 14-15 storm is expected to cost at least $600,000 to repair -- on top of the millions of d...
The price tag to repair the Lakewalk has increased, thanks to Mother Nature's fury earlier this month.
The damage to Duluth's shoreline caused by the April 14-15 storm is expected to cost at least $600,000 to repair - on top of the millions of dollars in damage still left to be repaired from a storm last October.
"What's fun about living in Duluth is that we have this beautiful lake here. What can be challenging is that she can be very fierce when the weather stirs up," Mayor Emily Larson said during a press conference on Monday.
The April storm's high winds churned up large waves that crashed into the Canal Park shoreline, prompting the city to close the Lakewalk, before a foot of snow fell on the city. Although a few sections of the boardwalk are closed due to the new damage, Larson clarified that the Lakewalk is open to the public and can be accessed from one end to the other.
"There is a cost to this and of course, an element like the Lakewalk is not an option. This is a part of who we are as a community. It is a part of what people expect to experience when they come here," Larson said.
The city plans to submit a disaster declaration for the April storm to receive state funding to help with repairs, said Erik Birkeland, the city's property and facilities manager.
Crews began evaluating the infrastructure immediately following the end of the April storm. The extent of the damage is still unknown and won't be known until the snow and ice melts to give staff better access, Larson said.
"What we have found with many of these storms is that what you see on the surface is one thing and what we really worry about is the erosion beneath," she said.
The damage caused by the October storm was well-documented and will be used as a baseline to determine what new damage occurred this month, Birkeland said.
The shoreline near the Great Lakes Aquarium and Duluth Entertainment Convention Center has "the most dramatic damage," with about 250 feet of destroyed concrete, Birkeland said.
City officials are also concerned about further damage to areas of the Lakewalk that were already damaged in October, including around the Vietnam War Memorial and below the Fitger's complex.
"We're very concerned about this area and still waiting for a full thaw to see if anything breaks loose," Birkeland said.
He added that the engineering department has reported that there's likely damage to stormwater outflows, but they haven't been able to take a boat out on the lake to get a closer look at any possible damage. They inspected the damage from a boat last fall and expect to do that again once the ice breaks up more, he said.
The city engaged the engineering firm TRC Companies to complete a comprehensive study of the needed repairs following the October storm. With potential recovery costs and plans in hand, the city's next step is to design the repairs to begin addressing the worst-hit areas on the Lakewalk this summer, Birkeland said. However, all of the repairs will likely take two construction seasons to complete.
The city plans to keep "climate adaptation in mind" as staff repair and rebuild the storm damage, Larson said.
"What that means is trying to be smarter as we lay down more Lakewalk or as we move pedestrian flow around so that when the next storm comes, it doesn't impact it with the same intensity or its impact can be redirected," she said.