The last block of the Superior Street reconstruction project was set to open Friday evening, completing the project that began nearly four years ago.
Collectively, construction crew members put in more than 130,000 hours of work to complete the project that spans 11 blocks of Superior Street, between Seventh Avenue West and Fourth Avenue East.
"We are reset, we're ready," Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said at a press conference Friday before the street reopening. "This is a once-in-a-generation project."
"The first year that we completed the first section of Superior Street we had a party, we danced, we had music," Larson said. "This year, we are just so grateful to have this project done. We are ready to open the door and have this street flowing, filled with people, activated with pedestrians."
The final block of the project, between Third and Fourth avenues east, only needs traffic lines painted on the road when weather allows, either Friday evening or next week, but that shouldn't interfere with traffic, Annie Harala, of Northland Constructors, said.
- Duluth's final Superior Street closure begins
- Superior Street construction resumes Monday in downtown Duluth
- Final phase of construction to begin on East Superior Street
- East Superior Street construction shifts to second phase in Duluth
"We're really proud to turn over the streets today to the city and traffic," Harala said. "We're standing about 20 feet from where we were two years ago when we were almost 30 feet in the ground."
The $31.5 million project replaced the bricks that used to surface the street as well as utilities dating back to the 1880s. A steam heating system from the 1930s has been replaced with a more efficient system to distribute hot water.
Northland Constructors and hundreds of city staff worked together to complete the reconstruction and utility upgrades.
"This is one mile, but it's a really critical mile," Larson said. "It's bookended by incredible investments. Maurices, the library on one end and Vision Northland on the other. Through this whole quarter you go through the financial district, you go through the HART (Historic Arts and Theater) District, you go through the beautiful amazing intersection that is Lake Avenue and Superior Street."
Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council, encouraged the public to enjoy an uninterrupted drive through Superior Street and support the local businesses.
"There's been a lot of challenges for our businesses, but they are resilient and our downtown is resilient," Stokes said. "Really give them that boost after this construction project."