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Concrete Wall, Large Stones to Bolster Lakewalk Against Storms

Baihly Warfield
Updated: February 07, 2019 10:35 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - The Lakewalk's blemishes are buried under snow Thursday. But when the snow melts, the city has a plan to beatify it again. 

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Some of the work has already been done. A smaller section between the PortLand Malt Shoppe and Fitger's has already been fortified. 

City engineers have added bigger rocks by the lake and constructed a concrete wall that will be raised about 18 inches above the boardwalk. 

"With the big stones outside of it, which break up the wave energy, and then the wall is there to stop more of it," Construction Project Supervisor Mike LeBeau said. "And anything that splashes over can go down through drains that are being installed now too."

LeBeau said decades-old engineering left the Lakewalk susceptible to Mother Nature. 

"You don't build things today along a shoreline like this the way you did in the 1980s," he said. "So no engineer would sign off on a project to put it back just the way it was."

The popular walking and biking path was pummeled by three separate storms: one in October 2017, another in April 2018 and the last in October 2018. So while LeBeau says funding is coming to help the rebuild, it's been a complicated process. 

"It's been hard to catch our breath and get anything done," LeBeau said. 

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration for St. Louis County, opening the door to receiving FEMA money. 

The city is going to take the opportunity to not only strengthen the Lakewalk against storms but also to make it more pleasant for locals and visitors. LeBeau said they plan to expand the asphalt portion from 7 feet wide to 12 feet wide, which will allow for emergency and maintenance vehicles to drive on it. The boardwalk portion will also be enlarged from 6 feet to 8 feet. 

"We're taking this opportunity to solve the capacity problems that we've had in the past," LeBeau said. 

He expects the section from Endion Station to Leif Erikson Park will be open sometime this summer. Because many of the Canal Park repairs are dependent on federal money, timing of the reconstruction there is uncertain. Regardless, it's an opportunity to make sure the Lakewalk is well designed for years to come. 

"More than repairs, this is really the next reset, the next version of the Lakewalk," he said. 

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Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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