Highway 23 culvert replacement to begin at Perch Lake

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is notifying residents and travelers that work to complete the Highway 23 culvert replacement project at Perch Lake between the Fond du Lac and Gary New Duluth neighborhoods will begin on Monday, May 13. Heavy equipment will be delivered to the site on May 7.

According to a release from MnDOT, the culvert replacement is a part of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Land Trust habitat restoration project to restore and enhance coastal marsh wetland habitat, improve fish and wildlife passage, and improve water quality by enhancing Perch Lake’s connection to the St Louis River Estuary.

Officials say Perch Lake was once a bay of the St Louis River Estuary and the construction of a railroad and Highway 23 embankments reduced this connection. MnDOT officials say crews will put in an additional 12-foot by 16-foot culvert to suppliment a 4-foot culvert to increase the circulation of water flow and fish movement. MnDOT says the culvert will allow for small watercraft to navigation through for improved recreational access.

Officials say a signal-controlled single lane bypass will be put in place and the work is expected to last about one month.

A final phase of work to install a recreational bridge on the adjacent Marten Trail is expected to take place later in the summer of 2024.

According to the release from the MnDNR, Perch Lake was identified in 2013 as one of 17 sites located in the St. Louis River Area of Concern in need of habitat restoration. Eleven habitat restoration projects have now been completed. The project is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Outdoor Heritage Fund