The vast majority of people surveyed about a flood-damaged highway in Jay Cooke State Park want the roadway to be rebuilt, according to a report from the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC).
The Minnesota Department of Transportation asked the ARDC to gather input on what should be done with a section of Minnesota Highway 210 that was washed out in several locations by the major June flood of 2012.
MnDOT has already repaired several sections of the highway, and restored access to the park headquarters from the park’s western entrance. But a roughly two-mile stretch of the scenic highway that parallels the St. Louis River and connects the park with the Fond du Lac neighborhood in southwestern Duluth remains closed. There are no homes along the road.
Nearly 90 percent of the more than 1,300 people surveyed said the state should rebuild the highway. The Department of Natural Resources, local officials, and Minnesota Power, which operates two power generating facilities nearby, also supported repairing the roadway. Respondents want it paved and plowed in the winter. Some also asked for wider shoulders to accommodate bikers and pedestrians.
MnDOT will use the information from the survey and public forums held last year to decide whether and how to rebuild the highway. MnDOT engineer Todd Campbell says the agency hopes to make its decision this spring. He says it would cost approximately $20 million to reopen the road.