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Highway 61 Reopened to Traffic for Holiday Weekend

September 01, 2017 10:41 PM

SCHROEDER, Minn. - Relief for those who are heading up the North Shore this weekend. Crews from Lakehead Constructors worked overnight to remove a damaged railroad bridge near Schroeder and the roadway has been reopened.

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A truck hauling an excavator hit a bridge over Highway 61 on Thursday afternoon.  The old railroad bridge was not being used anymore.  Due to safety concerns, MnDOT decided the bridge needed to come down.  A 27-mile detour from Illgen City to Schroeder was put in place while work was being completed.

Lakehead Constructors arrived on scene Thursday evening and worked through the night.  

Transportation Operations Supervisor for MnDOT, Mike Hedlund told Eyewitness News that the piece of bridge that was removed was 102,000 pounds. Two 80 ton cranes were on site doing the heavy lifting.  

"It was definitely a very safety sensitive operation on short notice, and in the end very successful," Hedlund said.

Hedlund said the crews came after working other jobs on Thursday to work on removing the piece of bridge.  

"A big load of coffee from Holiday right before they closed last night helped keep them awake," Hedlund said of the workers. "They had great spirits and a great crew. They did a wonderful job."

President of Lakehead, Brian Maki, explained more over the phone. "I'm very proud of these crews. They realized how important this was. Everybody knew what the mission was."

He explained that they used a jackhammer to loosen the concrete, and then had to cut through the steel beams.

Highway 61 near Taconite Harbor and Schroeder was opened to traffic around lunchtime on Friday. Drivers who use 61 were happy to hear the road was open again.

The State Patrol said that the driver of the truck was from Grand Marais. Citations are pending.


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