Captain Ievgen Medvedenko looked right at home standing dockside at the Riverland Ag terminal on Monday. The zipper open on his coat, flashing a tie, Medvedenko shrugged off what had to be a familiar chill coming from Lake Superior. Medvedenko grew up on the Black Sea, in the Ukraine city of Odessa, 46 degrees north of the equator — same as Duluth. "I live in a city which is along the sea," he said, having steered the 655-foot saltie Maria G into Duluth early Monday morning. "It's a family tradition to become a seaman."
Ten months of war in Afghanistan behind him, Lt. Cmdr. Roger Reinert called last week from a military base in Qatar on the Persian Gulf. A few days later the former Duluth city councilor and state legislator would tweet from Germany, where he'd arrived as part of a monthlong hopscotch toward Duluth and home. "I landed in Germany around 0400CST," he tweeted. "As of today I am officially out of the combat theater."
Ann McKie remembers the moment she began to leave behind a comfortable, professional life and steer into the unpredictable worlds of business and innovation. She was working as an occupational therapist and driving home to Duluth from the Cromwell residence of an infant client who had suffered partial paralysis on one side. "Babies can have strokes, too," she said.
Like the physical engine itself, the fate of Soo Line Locomotive 2719 appears to be back in Duluth's hands. The city of Eau Claire, which had been working on a return of the locomotive it owns, curbed to financial reality this week when it voted to reopen attempts to lease the nearly operational 225-ton steam locomotive and tender. After researching options, the city learned the cost to transport the engine and its coal car would blow out a modest budget.
Canadian National Railway plans to invest more than $80 million in Minnesota this year — spending it, they said, would strengthen the company’s rail network across the state. CN will replace 10 miles of rail, install 85,000 new railroad ties, rebuild 23 crossing surfaces and conduct maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems and other track infrastructure, the company said in a news release Thursday.
The first U.S.-flag laker to be built this century was commissioned this week and figures to be completed by mid-2022. The new "river-class" vessel will be built to transit the Great Lakes and service customers in some of the smaller harbors found in the rivers connecting the lakes. Commissioned by Interlake Steamship Company, based outside Cleveland, the 639-foot carrier capable of hauling 28,000 gross tons will be built in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. Both companies have 100-plus years of history on the Great Lakes.
When the St. Louis County Board enacted a half-cent sales tax in 2015, it did so to improve roads and bridges throughout the county. In the years since, structurally deficient bridges have dropped from a peak of 143 in 2012 to 51 last year. With $67 million in construction projects planned for this summer, the tax continues to pay dividends as 15 more bridges will be addressed as part of 132 total projects, including scores of pavement, gravel and safety upgrades.
More than 30 road and bridge projects valued at $70 million will unfold throughout Northeastern Minnesota beginning this spring, including a few stretches eclipsing 20 miles of resurfaced roadway. But the $342 million Twin Ports Interchange Reconstruction Project set to begin in 2020 looms over even this upcoming road construction season. In Duluth, a cluster of roadways serving the interchange will be resurfaced and improved in preparation for increased use throughout the rebuild of what is known locally as the "can of worms."
The Duluth Transportation Authority announced changes Wednesday to a series of experimental routes brought online in 2017, including sparing one route it had expected to discontinue. Route 22, originally scheduled to be cut due to low ridership, will continue to run hourly from Lincoln Park to Lakeside before ending daily at 1:30 p.m., when it becomes a downtown to Lakeside route, leaving every half-hour from the Duluth Transportation Center. The DTA board of directors approved the changes at its meeting in late March, a news release said.
A push to help communities and workplaces become more understanding of mental illness is taking root in Duluth — with more free employer training beginning this week. A private survey of 3,000 people conducted by Minnesota-based company HealthPartners showed that 74 percent of Duluth-area respondents (about 500 people) said they were comfortable talking to someone about their mental health — the highest among seven communities surveyed, including Hennepin and Ramsey counties, Red Wing, Stillwater, White Bear Lake and St. Croix Falls, Wis.