'It held up': Highway 210 withstands rain, set to open Wednesday
On the eve of its reopening, Minnesota Highway 210 through Jay Cooke State Park passed a significant test -- albeit minus the flying colors. Minor washouts along the roadway will require attention, but only sometime after the roadway is reopened ...
On the eve of its reopening, Minnesota Highway 210 through Jay Cooke State Park passed a significant test - albeit minus the flying colors.
Minor washouts along the roadway will require attention, but only sometime after the roadway is reopened to the public.
"We got about 3 inches of rain in a hurry and, for this area, that's a pretty big rainfall," said Aaron Gunderson, the Highway 210 project manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "We did have about a dozen locations with very small washouts. If you weren't intimately involved in the project you wouldn't even have noticed - nothing anywhere near blocking the road."
Heavy rain fell in the park Monday night and into Tuesday morning, putting the $21.4 million project under immediate scrutiny.
The highway is scheduled to open at 11 a.m. Wednesday, after more than five years of closure since the 2012 flood that washed out parts of the road and collapsed slopes on a corkscrewing section of highway skirting the St. Louis River between the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth and Carlton.
"There are a few things we'll have to fix," Gunderson said. "After we open it up and after things settle down, we'll go in, close some shoulders and lanes - but not the road - and do repair work."
The reconstruction of Highway 210 required dozens of slopes to either be recreated or reinforced. It has previously been reported as a series of 80 separate projects coming together under the banner of one. Automatic slope monitors were installed at several points along the roadway to alert MnDOT if a slope is shifting. None of those monitors were triggered with this week's rainfall, Gunderson said. "The only thing that triggered measures groundwater," he said. "None of the devices that measure slope movement triggered and that's a good thing - despite the amount of water we received, nothing moved."
Gunderson explained that much of slope reinforcement requires vegetation growth, and that some of the areas along the route just haven't grown to maturity yet.
"It usually takes two full years," he said. "In some of those spots, the vegetation is a half-year old. Without great vegetation, they're prone to washouts. It's a critical time for those sites."
The project is being paid for with Federal Highway Administration emergency funds, and the News Tribune previously reported that the slope work is warrantied for three years.
All in all, Gunderson was pleased by the performance of the rebuilt roadway.
"Any time you have a bad rain you'll have some erosion and things like that," Gunderson said, "but it held up."