Officials celebrate first Superior Street milestone

Project Manager Lance Lindahl of Northland Constructors, speaking into the microphone, said the Superior Street project has gone smoothly so far. People are interested in the complicated work, he added, thanking onlookers for their interest in the construction trades.

Duluth officials on Monday celebrated completion of first major element of Superior Street in the city’s downtown.

They gathered at the Fifth Avenue West intersection, where underground utilities and pavement have been replaced. The street, which connects to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and Interstate Highway 35, has now reopened to traffic.

“In this project, we have addressed all the infrastructure underneath. We’re also reactivating, re-energizing and reactivating downtown, which really is the heart of our community,” Mayor Emily Larson said at a morning news conference. “Thank you for your patience, your commitment and investment in Duluth. I’ve been really impressed by how optimistic everyone has been. It’s not easy having your main street torn up. It feels kind of vulnerable to me – like open heart surgery. At the same time, I know where it’s getting us, and it’s to a bright and beautiful future for downtown.”

The work, which will extend to Third Avenue East by 2020, began in April. Phase I is set for completion by October. It’s the first part of a three-year program that will replace Superior Street and its century-old buried infrastructure to Fourth Avenue East.

“Businesses have worked closely with the contractor. This is a team effort to make this project a success, and things have been going very smoothly,” said Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council. She noted that, despite the ongoing work, Sidewalk Days, street dances and the classic car show will proceed as usual. “We’re just condensing them a little bit,” she noted.

So far, the job has gone smoothly, said Project Manager Lance Lindahl of Northland Constructors, the general contractor.  

“We’re happy to see people watching and taking interest in the trades,” he said.

According to the city, a massive supply of materials are being used in the project including 700 feet of storn sewer, 440 feet of hot water pipe, 18 new catch basins, 10 new storm manholes, 475 feet of electrical duct and 11,000 square feet of new concrete. Removed so far have been 1,700 feet of old steam piping and 1,300 feet of old trolley tracks.

“The Northland has been great in bridging everybody together, and businesses have been wonderful in working through this process. Everyone is trying real hard to make this sure we do this in as least disruptive a process as possible. We’re really excited about what this means for downtown going forward. We think businesses are going to love it when it’s done, and citizens are going to love it,” said David Montgomery, the city’s chief administrative officer.

Much has been learned from working on first section, he explained, and that knowledge  will be applied to work on phases two and three.