Celebrating the progress of Vision Northland (Sept. 16, 2020)

It’s been one year since the start of construction on Vision Northland. And on Wednesday, Essentia Health showed us some of the progress.

Demolition started September 9th, 2019. Since then, more than 41,000 cubic yards of rock has been removed.

“I remember the first scoop taken on 1st Street, and in a year, it’s just incredible to see the progress,” said Dr. Robert Erickson, the physician lead on the project. “We are so indebted to the men and women of the trades who work in all types of weather to make this dream a reality.”

They’ve only missed one day of work because of a COVID-19 case. “When the pandemic started, we were like, oh no, what’s going to happen? But we persevered, like our nation did, and we’re right on schedule,” Erickson said.

The first part of the building stands eight stories high. On that eighth floor will be labor and delivery, the NICU, and pediatrics.

The part of the building that faces the lake will have plenty of glass, to let in natural light.

In total, there will be 13,000 tons of steel used. “That’s about the same as what was used to build U.S. Bank Stadium,” shared Phil Johnson, project manager for McGough Construction, which is the construction manager.

More than 750 workers have been on site over the past year working on the $942 million dollar project, which is billed as the largest private investment in Duluth’s history. It’s meant work for the unions, during what has been a challenging time for the trades.

Johnson said working on a historic build like this doesn’t happen very often. “Being a Duluth kid, growing up here, and my wife working for Essentia, it’s wonderful to be a part of. I kind of pinch myself.”

Essentia says about 50% of the tradespeople working on the project are members of the local unions. Nine subcontractors are headquartered in Duluth and four are in Superior.

The crews have logged about 210,000 hours, with only one minor recordable injury and four first-aid injuries, per Essentia. 

Many have marveled at the clinic tower that’s going up, which will be eight stories tall.  The big tower will be 15 stories above 1st street, and will be the tallest building in Duluth.

It’s expected that the project will be complete in the first quarter of 2023, with new patient care to start later that year.

“We want to thank our patients and the community, for their patience. We know this can be an inconvenience, but it will be worth it,” Erickson added.