WTIP file photo

Highway engineer shares update on 2021 Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

As it goes with most news items in recent months, nearly everything discussed by elected officials or government personnel during a recent meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners was associated with COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic. Among such items and talking points was the annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

During a Nov. 10 meeting, county officials and the commissioners discussed various protocols for the 2021 race with regard to the pandemic. After discussing various safety plans race organizers created to keep the race going this winter, the commissioners approved the plan as it was presented by the local highway department.

According to race officials, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states, running nearly 300 miles along the North Shore and throughout remote stretches of forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 2021 race runs Jan. 31-Feb. 2.

To learn more about the race plans of operation this year, including the COVID-19 protocols, click here.

In addition to discussion about the upcoming Beargrease, Cook County Highway Engineer Robbie Hass shared a number of updates with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs ahead of the holiday season. Among them was a request for approval of the county’s 10-year road and bridge plan. This is comprehensive document outlining the highway department’s priorities and projects over the next decade. As the commissioners have discussed the plan at length in previous meetings, it was approved with minimal discussion. To view the road and bridge plan, click here.

The highway department gathered input from property owners along South Shore Drive who are requesting a speed study to be done by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Support for the speed study was overwhelming, with many hoping that the speed limit will be lowered from 55 mph, Hass said. Activating a speed study could have the reverse of effect of increasing the speed limit on South Shore Drive, Hass warned, though that scenario is unlikely on the road near Devil Track Lake.
Due to the fact MnDOT has a backlog of similar studies at this time across the state, it could be a year or more before this speed study can take place on South Shore Drive, Hass said.

To hear the full interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs and Hass, listen to the audio posted below.