Rhonda Silence

Checking in with MnDOT as Highway 61 construction begins

It is construction season. That is definitely the case in downtown Grand Marais and it has been confusing for many drivers.

Through traffic on Highway 61 is allowed in the city for vehicles heading east, but not west. Coming from the west, vehicles must use the open lane, on the upper side of the highway. That lane takes motorist to Wisconsin Street and into the downtown area.

To reach west Highway 61, motorists need to go up the hill at Broadway Avenue to County Road 7 (5th Street). Turning left at County Road 7 and then left down 8th Avenue gets motorists back on westbound Highway 61.

There have been some social media complaints that it is confusing and Edward Welch, the Minnesota Department of Transportation Grand Marais Project Manager, acknowledges that there needs to be some changes to directional signage. He said that will happen this week. He asked motorists to be patient as the project gets underway..

As it did last year, MnDOT will be holding public meetings for anyone with questions. The first meeting will be a virtual meeting on Thursday, May 20 at 1 p.m. Check the MnDOT Grand Marais Highway 61 reconstruction project website for the link to attend.

Welch said it is hoped to hold in-person meetings at some point this summer, to be held outdoors.

To contact Project Engineer Welch directly, call 218-725-2769 or email edward.welch@state.mn.us.
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Project Engineer Welch about the phases of the project and the detours. Here’s their conversation.