Rhonda Silence

COVID-19 won’t delay Grand Marais Highway 61 reconstruction project

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reconstruction of Highway 61 through Grand Marais has been in the news for several years now, from planning pedestrian routes and utility replacements to the removal of elm trees in the city of Grand Marais this fall.

In recent months, citizens were becoming resigned to living through highway construction this spring and summer. Local businesses launched a “Project 61” initiative to help keep the public informed of the highway construction
Then came the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Tim Walz’ “Stay Home Minnesota” order.

Community members now wonder if an extension of the governor’s order will derail the highway work. It appears that is not the case. The construction work, to be completed by KGM Contractors of Angora, Minnesota, will proceed as planned. The start date for the project is May 18, but it could begin sooner if weather allows.

The Highway 61 project is expected to last two years, with work being done from Cutface Creek, through the City of Grand Marais, to just before County Road 14 in Colvill. The cost of the work, which includes removal of contaminated soil, utility and stormwater improvements, and roadside amenities, is $20 million.

For more information, visit the MnDOT website or call City Hall at 218-387-1848.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence reached out to MnDOT to learn more about what happens next for the project and about MnDOT’s efforts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. She spoke with Public Engagement and Communications Director for MnDOT’s district 1 Pippi Mayfield.
For anyone interested in following the Grand Marais Highway 61 project, Mayfield suggests they sign up for an email list. You can sign up on the MnDOT webpage, in the “Connect with Us” section.

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Here is Rhonda Silence with Pippi Mayfield, public engagement and communications director for our region, MnDOT’s District 1.