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Snively Road roundabout coming this summer to eastern Duluth

The project is part of St. Louis County's $67 million road and bridge effort for 2022.

Road intersection.
A line of traffic on Snively Road approaches the intersection with Glenwood Street, left and right, and Jean Duluth Road on Tuesday. St. Louis County plans to convert the four-way stop intersection to a roundabout.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — One of the highlights of a $67 million St. Louis County road and bridge program this summer comes in the form of a long-awaited new roundabout.

The roundabout, first reported in 2019, will replace a four-way stop at the intersection of Snively and Jean Duluth roads with Glenwood Street.

During peak hours, traffic flow at the intersection can rate as an "F" on an "A-F" scale. It was only getting worse, engineers said.

“For the roundabout part, it’s more about the efficiency of that intersection,” said Matt Hemmila, St. Louis County deputy public works director based in Hibbing. “It should definitely reduce delay in the peak times, and be a lot more efficient in non-peak times, too.”

The roundabout is part of $3.1 million in improvements aimed at the area of Woodland Avenue between West Arrowhead and Snively roads in the Hunters Park neighborhood.

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Road intersection.
A motorist drives through the Snively-Glenwood-Jean Duluth intersection while others wait their turns Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

In addition to resurfacing throughout the area, signal replacements will be coming to Woodland intersections with Arrowhead and Snively. New signals are also coming to the intersection where Carver Avenue and Hartley Road intersect with West Arrowhead Road.

Work is expected to begin in early- to mid-June, with completion of the roundabout estimated for September.

“The goal is still Labor Day weekend,” Hemmila said, already confessing to fighting supply chain issues. “We’ll see.”

road projects 2.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

The Snively Road work is part of 125 total projects in the county, including road and bridge reconstructions, roadway resurfacing projects, and safety improvements. All told, 86 miles of pavement resurfacing projects — 49 miles north and 37 south — will take place in the county, in addition to 19 miles of gravel road improvements, and 106 miles of chip and scrub sealing used to maintain and extend the life of roadways.

The $67 million in improvements comes on the heels of several years of $50 million-plus spent annually in road improvements — the result of a 0.5% transportation sales tax implemented in 2015. Next year, the program figures to cost $70 million, as the county continues to bond, or borrow, against the tax revenues in order to get ahead of road and bridge improvements.

road projects 1.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

None of the county program features funding from the $1.2 billion outlined in President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Hemmila said he expected local projects would begin accessing those funds in 2023. As it is, the county is paying for the summer's work using $8 million in federal funds, mostly from competitive grant programs, to go along with $18 million in transportation sales tax monies, $25 million in state aid funds, and $16 million credited to a variety of other sources.

“We’re kind of always looking to offset those regular funds we have every year,” Hemmila said.

Detours for the Snively roundabout will unfold in two stages. Initially, for the first month starting in June, access will close to Glenwood Street east of the intersection. A significant detour will shift traffic farther east along East Superior Street and London Road, before routing it up 43rd Avenue East, which ultimately connects with Glenwood. It’s the difference between traveling among the universities and through the Congdon neighborhood, and instead moving past Northland Country Club and approaching the area through the Lakeside neighborhood.

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The second phase will shut down the Snively-Jean Duluth-Glenwood intersection entirely for an additional two months, until project completion in September. Traffic will be diverted onto a northerly detour using Martin Road and Woodland Avenue.

“The intersection is being relocated (a bit) to the southeast from where it is today, so we’ll be grading that whole area to prepare for the roundabout,” Lund said.

The intersection is known for being home to Lakeview Covenant Church on the northwest corner of the woodsy area.

“They promised us our two driveways would always be open for access on Sundays,” said Deb Johnson, a part-time children and youth worker at the church who also lives in the neighborhood.

She was pleased to learn traffic would be diverted farther north to Martin Road, than through more residential streets.

“That’s my biggest concern,” she said. “It makes me happy for our neighborhood that they’re using Martin Road.”

The Snively project includes full resurfacing of the roadway from Woodland Avenue to Glenwood Street, and construction of a new retaining wall along Snively located approximately 300 feet east of Woodland Avenue. Snively Road will be closed to traffic during the construction of the retaining wall and replacement of the neighborhood traffic signals.

Local residents on Snively Road will be provided access to their driveways through neighborhood streets such as Everett and St. Andrews streets.

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road projects 3.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

Other highlights of the county program include:

  • Reconstruction of portions of Douglas and Roosevelt avenues in Eveleth, including city utility replacement, for $2.7 million. 
  • Year one of three in a federal bridge bundling project, featuring nine box culvert replacements, for $5 million.
  • A pair of reduced conflict intersection, or J-turns, coming to Industrial Township (at Minnesota Highway 33 and County Road 7), and another near Mountain Iron, at rural intersection that has been the site of 10 traffic crashes in the last decade, including one in which two people died. Roughly $525,000 each.  
  • Range paving package, $6 million worth of work, including resurfacing 9.8 miles of Zim Road from County State Aid Highway 5 to CSAH 7; 6.3 miles of County Road 444 from Townline to Helstrom roads; 2.7 miles of CSAH 5 from Zim to Frasier roads; and 6.5 miles of CSAH 5 from Zim Road to Trunk Highway 37. 
  • Finally, resurfacing 4 miles of Giants Ridge Road from Trunk Highway 135 in Biwabik to Giants Ridge, for $1.7 million.
RELATED
A dedicated local sales tax for street improvements has shown growth, boosting funds for road repairs.

Brady Slater covers St. Louis County and transportation for the Duluth News Tribune. He's a veteran journalist, and a University of Pittsburgh graduate who was born and raised in the Northland. He can be reached by emailing bslater@duluthnews.com or by calling or texting 218-721-2724.
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