Highway department gears up for busy construction season as winter slowly fades
WTIP file photo

Highway department gears up for busy construction season as winter slowly fades

It was a winter that will be remembered more for its ice than its snow. At least on local roadways.

“It was like an ice rink at times,” Cook County Highway Engineer Robbie Hass said of the local roads during various stages of the winter of 2022-23.

The highway department staff worked tirelessly to keep the local roads ice free, and to apply sand and some salt on the local roads, Hass said during a recent WTIP interview.

During the update, Hass was quick to point out that winter could be far from over in Cook County. Cold snaps in March are not uncommon, as are significant snow events. Nonetheless, the relatively mild winter with a more average snowpack pales in comparison to last winter’s memorable snowfall. However, the highway department staff have had to deal with rain events in February and periodic melting that covered many local roads in ice.

As the winter begins to wind down in the weeks ahead, the administrative side of the highway department is shifting its focus to the upcoming construction season. At the top of the list on the construction calendar, at least in terms of local impact, is the reconstruction of 5th Avenue West in Grand Marais. The upcoming project will consist of replacing city stormwater infrastructure and reconstructing the road. Sidewalks will be added on either side of 5thAvenue West as well. Construction is slated for Summer 2023 and will extend from Highway 61 to County Road 7.

Residents and businesses will be able to use their driveways, but travel up and down 5th Avenue will be prohibited. Detour routes are still in the works. The project will last all summer, Hass said, from approximately May to late August or September.

To listen to the full interview with Hass and WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs from March 6, listen to the audio below.