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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
Duluth begins effort to plan reconstructed Superior Street
PHOTO: Detailed illustrations of Superior Street were viewed by those who attended a Tuesday meeting addressing an upcoming reconstruction project.
Just hours after North Tower Avenue reopened in Superior following a mile-long rebuild, Duluth officials held a public information meeting to address a comprehensive project for a similar length of Superior Street.
Some downtown Duluth business owners wanted to know if their upcoming project will be conducted in the same manner, with a one-mile stretch in the prime business district closed to traffic for many months, along with some cross streets, rather than doing the work in stages.
“If you keep the avenues open, I think we can get by this,” said Eddie Gleeson, owner of Carmody Irish Pub. But if avenues are closed, or if they become a parking lot for construction workers, said another company owner, businesses could suffer or fail.
Some retailers in Superior were upset with the lack of staged work on North Tower Avenue, saying parts of the thoroughfare were closed for weeks when little or no work was being done there.
Organizers of Tuesday's meeting in Duluth repeatedly said they seek public input into all aspects of reconstructing Superior Street from Sixth Avenue West to Fourth Avenue East – a project that also will include the replacement of underground utilities.
“We look at this as a true opportunity. This is a chance to determine what we want Superior Street to look like for the next 20 or so years,” said Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council.
“All ideas are good and all comments are good. I hope you stay with us throughout the entire process,” said Keith Hamre, Duluth planning director.
The improvements are badly needed, said Brad Scott of LHB, a consultant on the project. Some water mains date back to 1887 and some storm sewers were constructed before 1900. One main sanitary sewer, built of brick, was constructed in 1886.
“There is no doubt it will be a challenge to address all of these issues,” Scott said.
Funding is also an unresolved matter. It likely will include state aid, a city contribution, grants and assessments, but specifics are yet to be determined.
Some participants in the Tuesday meeting recalled the situation when downtown Duluth streets were rebuilt in a massive 1980s project. Rick Heimbach, owner of Bagley & Co., said city officials showed concern for the business community. Still, “the short term was pretty scary,” he observed, because construction work reduces retail traffic.
A business owner who did not identify herself raised a similar concern. She complained about utility work conducted last spring, sharply reducing traffic to her store. The city did not inform business owners in advance nor tell them who to contact with their concerns, she said.
Five additional public session will be held during coming months.The first is scheduled in December, when participants are invited to share their vision for the reconstructed street. For more information, click here.
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