City of Duluth details plans for 2024 road repairs

14 miles of street repairs planned for Duluth this year

On Thursday, the City of Duluth held two public meetings to provide an update on this year's street repair planned. The focus for 2024 will be on repaving streets with poor pavements.

In 2017, a survey showed that 91% of Duluthians lacked confidence in the city’s streets. A pavement assessment done at the time showed that 55% of Duluth’s 450 miles of streets were in poor condition.

With around half a billion dollars in funds needed to address these needs, a majority of Duluth voters approved a referendum in 2017 that would dedicate a 1/2 percent sales tax to fund the Street Improvement Program. This tax was implemented in 2019, and 2020 was the first year of the program.

As the city kicks off the fourth year of street repairs using this tax money, two meetings were held Thursday to update residents on what to expect this construction season. One was virtual at noon, and the other was held at the Downtown Duluth Library at 5:30 pm.

“We had a meeting in the fall to let the community, to all that, everybody know who lives on a street that is getting work done, that they’re having a project happen and get early input. Now that the construction work is beginning, we wanted to meet with everybody, or at least invite everybody to a meeting, so that they could find out what does it actually mean from a construction perspective,” said City of Duluth Senior Transportation Planner James Gittemeier. “Most of the feedback that we’ve received is just concerns over that kind of really day to day practical, ‘How do I get in and out of my driveway or how do I know if I have to get someplace, how do I do that? Is this street closing or is it going to be mostly available and open all year?’ All those kind of related questions.”

Elaine Engel and her husband have lived in the same house for 31 years. The street they live on is on the list for this year’s repairs.

“It’s been needed for about 20 years, said Engel. “It’s usually a lot of problems. In fact, people have said, is your street a golf course? It just seems like it’s one pothole after another.”

Over the next ten years, the focus for street repairs will shift to be more in line with lead pipe replacement. This year, however, the focus will be on resurfacing streets with poor pavement conditions. There will be an estimated 14 miles of repair done this year, which is over twice as much as the usual six miles a year.

“Whether it’s an overlay, where it’s just new pavement on top of existing, or a mill where they grind it up, or a reclaim where they grind it all the way down to the subsurface, these repairs will create a fresh, smooth driving surface,” said Gittemeier.

The full list of streets that the city plans on repairing this year can be found here. This information in the form of a map can be found at this link, and the city will post weekly updates on their website.