Lake County transportation projects approved by OberstarThree of the region’s high priority transportation projects have been approved for funding by Rep. Jim Oberstar.
By: Matt Suoja, Lake County News-Chronicle
Three of the region’s high priority transportation projects have been approved for funding by Rep. Jim Oberstar.
The projects were outlined this week at a Lake County Board of Commissioners, though they still require the rubber stamp of Congree.
These possible projects are:
- Developing two miles of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail from the Beaver Bay trail head parking lot to the Silver Bay Marina is one of the projects. This project would complete a missing link between two developed segments of the Gitchi-Gami trail and provide a connection to the Silver Bay Marina. It is estimated to cost $880,000.
- Reconstruction of Highway 61 between 3.3 miles north of Highway 1 to 1.75 miles north of Little Marais was another project approved by Oberstar. Portions of the roadway have virtually no shoulder, making it unsafe for travelers, tourists and truckers. Reconstruction of the route, with a 10-foot paved shoulder would promote local and regional safety. The project would cost almost $10 million.
- Another project approved by Oberstar is the reconstruction of Highway 1 between five miles southeast of the Kawishiwi River to the Kawishiwi River. It would be a link between Stony River and Ely. The project would complete a 15 mile link between Lake County State Aid Highway 2 and the Ely area. The area for the project, is in the impact area of future copper-nickel mineral extraction in Northeastern Minnesota. It is projected to cost $6.4 million.
Other items discussed at the board meeting included:
- At the meeting, which included input from various Silver Bay government officials, the economy was discussed.
Paul Bergman, chairman of the board, said he would like to see the cities of Two Harbors and Silver Bay come together to help the local economy grow. He said he believed the cities could do great things together.
- Chris Swanson, who originally proposed the Lake County Fiber Initiative project, discussed the board’s ideas with Silver Bay city officials.
He said very few tax payer dollars would go to the project, adding that fiber optics are not just for the internet, but also for phones and television.
“It’s really an economic development driver,” he said, adding that it could help keep young people in the area.
Lake County is still trying to partner with Cook County for the project.
The board entered into a contract with a group recently, which consists of ValleyNet, Development Strategies and Resources Inc. and Eureka Broadband, for one year for the project.
The group would conduct a marketing survey, by phone, and also help get funding in the initial phase.