By Peter Passi on May 28, 2019 at 8:00 p.m
Duluth's surf-battered Lakewalk soon will be on the mend again, with an eye toward making sure it will withstand future storm surges.
The Duluth City Council authorized up to a $2.35 million contract with Veit and Co. Inc. Tuesday night to restore eroded shoreline and replace the Lakewalk from Fourth Avenue East to Seventh Avenue East.
Storms struck in October 2017 and April 2018, pounding the Lakewalk and inflicting some of the worst damage to the section of path behind the Fitgers Complex. The surf tore up the boardwalk and undermined the adjacent paved path, knocking them both out of commission.
The first phase of the project, completed last year, girded about 350 feet of shoreline with a reinforced concrete wall and large stones.
The second phase of the project, slated to begin this summer, will stabilize another 650 feet of shoreline and will restore 1,000 feet of boardwalk and paved path. To handle growing traffic on the popular Lakewalk, the boardwalk will be widened to 8 feet, and the asphalt path will be broadened to 12 feet.
About 75 percent of the cost will be covered by state disaster recovery funds.
The local share of the cost — an anticipated $586,460 — will be borne by the city.
Citing the increasing frequency of storms and recent record-high lake levels, 1st District Councilor Gary Anderson asked if the city was doing enough to ensure the project provides more than just a temporary fix.
Jim Filby Williams, Duluth's director of public administration, replied: "I think we can have a great deal of confidence that these reconstructed segments of shoreline and Lakewalk are going to be built to last. We're confident that they will be able to withstand the increasing frequency and intensity of storms that climate change may be bringing us."
Anderson asked if the city had given much thought about what can be done to protect private property and the public safety of Park Point's residents in the face of increasingly unpredictable storm surges.
"Right now we're working with Homeland Security and emergency management to try to engage some of their funding and technical expertise to better understand the long-term trajectory of both our shorelines — both the North Shore with all its red clay and bedrock and the Park Point shoreline — in the face of climate change, because I think there's a need for us to better understand where we're headed over the next 50 years. We hope to be able to secure that funding in the next several months," Filby Williams said.