Cook County Connections: 2024 County Infrastructure ProjectsDec 01, 2023 10:07AM ● By Content Editor
By: Cook County Highway Engineer Robert Hass
With the 2023 construction season wrapped up at the Highway Department, we have already been working on projects for the 2024 season. Projects are slated all throughout the county, from Tofte to the Gunflint Trail and up to Grand Portage.
Beginning on the east end of the county is a project we’ve been working on for several years. A new timber bridge and road realignment in Grand Portage will realign Upper Road through the Grand Portage National Monument and move vehicular traffic off the existing historic stone bridge. Pedestrian paths will replace the current alignment across the historic bridge, allowing for safer access for visitors and locals through the park. Traffic will be rerouted along a new alignment and timber bridge over Grand Portage Creek between Store Road and the existing alignment. This project has been a collaborative effort between the National Park Service (NPS), the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Cook County. This community-led project is one of the many reasons I enjoy working here. Funding for this project will come from our annual State Aid allocation, state bridge bonds, and federal money from NPS. Redstone Construction was awarded the contract for construction for $2.6 million.
Moving west to Grand Marais we have three projects scheduled for the area: a heated storage building on our highway campus, resurfacing Cutoff Road/UT 52, and the Gunflint Trail “Mill the Hill” and bridge replacement.
A heated storage facility will be constructed on our main highway campus and comes from more space required to store our equipment. Storing graders and/or plow trucks outside or in cold storage during the winter is not an option as ice build-up and engines and hydraulics warming up would prevent us from being able to quickly respond to snow events in a timely and safe manner over the duration of our long winters. This facility will be funded partially through our annual state aid allocation and undesignated cash at the highway department.
Resurfacing Cutoff Road will be just that, replacing the existing roadway surface with a new roadway surface. The existing roadway cross-section will remain the same so the area of impact will be no different than what is currently there. This project will be funded through Transportation Sales Tax (TST) funds.
Our last Grand Marais project has been dubbed “Mill the Hill.” This project will involve resurfacing the Gunflint Trail from 5th Ave W up to the four corners intersection at Devil Track Road and Golf Course Road. Within that resurfacing a fourth travel/bypass lane will be added from the curve heading up the hill to Pincushion Drive, intersection improvements at Cutoff Road and Old Ski Hill Road as well as at Devil Track Road, and a bridge will replace the existing deficient and undersized culvert at the Little Devil Track River. The bridge will allow the Little Devil Track River to be restored back to its natural habitat and is part of another stream restoration project with Cook SWCD that will take place next summer as well. Several funding sources are part of this project including programmatic federal funds we receive from the state every 3-5 years, on-system bridge replacement funds (BROS), Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) funds, state bridge bonds, Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) funds, Outdoor Heritage Funds (OHF), and our annual state aid allocation. In total, we’ve secured approximately $6.5 million in competitive grant funding for this project with another $2.9 million in funds allocated for its construction.
Continuing west are two bridge replacements: one on Cascade Beach Road/UT 97 over Spruce Creek and Alfred Creek Road/CR 28 over Alfred Creek. Both projects will replace deficient structures with concrete slab span bridges. The Spruce Creek Bridge will utilize town bridge funds and the Alfred Creek Bridge will utilize state bridge bonds. Recently, the Alfred Creek project was awarded to Northland Constructors for $764,000.
Finally, on the west end of the county in Tofte we will be improving Tofte Park Road/CR 24. Through public engagement meetings, we determined the east section of the road will be reconstructed to better facilitate drainage and the heavier truck loads from the fire department while the west segment will be resurfaced and include some approach improvements to Highway 61. This project will utilize Transportation Sales Tax (TST) funds and is scheduled to begin construction after the July 4th parade that utilizes this road.
The projects scheduled for 2024 construction utilize a wide array of funding sources to help offset local financial impacts. Approximately $8.8 million in grants, bonds, and other outside funding sources have been secured. Without these outside sources, we would not be able to complete these and other future projects.
For additional information, please give us a call at the Cook County Highway Department at 218-387-3014.
For maps and a list of projects in our 10-year transportation plan, please visit the Highway Department page on the County website at www.co.cook.mn.us.
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.