Updated: March 23, 2021 10:16 PM
Created: March 23, 2021 06:11 PM
After a long wait, the end of the Lakewalk construction is finally in sight.
City officials say they are 95 percent done with the final phase of construction, and that the goal is to be done by Grandma's Marathon.
When all is said and done, the Lakewalk will look a lot different than it used to.
The big change is stones, some that weigh 10 to 12 tons, being used as reinforcements to protect against large waves.
"We raised the grade slightly to get above the water, and make it heavier duty to last longer," said City of Duluth Construction Project Supervisor Mike LeBeau.
A concrete wall also forms a second layer of protection.
"On the land side of that stone revetment is a massive concrete wall, so the wave energy gets broken up by the stones, and any remaining energy is stopped by the concrete wall, so it can't undermine the trails, and the lights, and everything else that failed before," said LeBeau.
LeBeau says the portion of the Lakewalk in Canal Park is especially susceptible to damage. A series of storms ripped it apart several times in recent years.
Therefore, LeBeau says extra reinforcements were necessary.
"This one takes it head on. That's why the construction here had to be bigger and stronger and higher," said LeBeau.
The reinforcements also mean a change in the view for hotel guests along the Lakewalk. Guests WDIO News spoke with are hopeful they will help protect it for years to come.
"It looks like the way the boardwalk is kind of protected by the cement curb, I guess you could call it, that looks like it's going to hold it in place a lot better," said Mary Schlingmann of Apple Valley.
"The giant rocks that they put out there, the boulders, that should hold the land, I would hope," said Don Schlingmann of Apple Valley.
In addition to adding the extra reinforcements, LeBeau says they also added new lights and wiring. Additionally, they widened the boardwalk from 6 feet to 10 feet, and the asphalt trail from 7 feet to 12 feet.
"The popularity of this area, and this trail has grown so much that it just needs more capacity," said LeBeau.
While you may be itching to get outside and enjoy the Lakewalk, LeBeau is asking for the public's patience as crews finish construction.
"We just need a couple more months, and this will be open to everyone again," said LeBeau.
So when Grandma's Marathon rolls around, the hope is the Lakewalk will again be available to be used.
"I think it'll be fun, especially for families to come up and go back to hunting rocks down by the lakeshore," said Mary Schlingmann.
"It'll be good for business up here," said Don Schlingmann.
The total cost of the project is around $16 million to $17 million.
The Lakewalk's path is also going to be extended through Brighton Beach this year. LeBeau says crews will be paving a new trail through Brighton Beach by this fall.