Highways through Grand Marais, International Falls targeted for reconstruction

MnDOT announced 188 road and bridge projects throughout the state on Thursday.

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A trio of Northeastern Minnesota highway projects were highlighted Thursday when the state announced 188 road and bridge projects, including a pair of projects designed to rehabilitate Minnesota Highway 61 between Grand Marais and the Canadian border.

The twin Highway 61 projects come in at roughly $20 million each, along with a $12.9 million project to reconstruct U.S. Highway 53 through International Falls. Each of the projects will start this season and stretch into future construction campaigns.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz provided an exemption for workers engaged in roadway construction, maintenance and utility projects in his order to stay at home amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is critical that MnDOT continue its work to maintain and improve our state’s transportation infrastructure,” Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said in a MnDOT news release. “A safe, reliable and multimodal transportation system is essential to keeping our state running in times of crisis. MnDOT construction projects will continue as scheduled and within the guidance set by state and federal health officials to prevent further spread of COVID-19.”

In addition, MnDOT said it will work on another 66 projects to make improvements to airports, ports, transit and railroads that are outside of the state road construction program.


The International Falls project will bring a smoother pavement surface, improved pedestrian accessibility and safety, updated drainage, and better visual quality to Highway 53, MnDOT said. In Grand Marais and on Highway 61, the projects will also bring smoother pavement surface, improved pedestrian accessibility and safety, and improved drainage and stream stability.

Work in International Falls will be conducted July through October 2020 and May through October 2021, with landscaping in 2022.

The Grand Marais/Highway 61 project will use Cook County Road 7 to detour traffic. It begins in May and stretches into 2021. The 17-mile Highway 61 project farther up the road through Grand Portage begins in July and is expected to end in fall 2021.

An interactive map of the full 2020 construction program can be found at .

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