DULUTH — City leaders asked for $13.5 million from the state to help fortify its shores from the fury of Lake Superior storms, and now Gov. Tim Walz is on their side.
On Wednesday, Walz included Duluth’s request in his $2 billion bonding proposal, which would pay for a record number of local projects in the state. Waves and wind from a series of severe storms have caused millions of dollars in damage along the city’s shores, and officials are in the midst of reconstruction efforts to better protect the shore from Mother Nature moving forward.
Walz included a number of other northeastern Minnesota projects in his bonding package, including a recommendation that $8.6 million go to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to upgrade the snow-making system at Giants Ridge ski area and $10.3 million to the city of Virginia to fund a new regional emergency services facility.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said the city’s Lakewalk restoration efforts — which are being billed as a $61 million project funded by city, state and federal dollars — aim to provide lasting protection to Duluth’s shores. Simply repairing damage after each storm, she said, feels like “putting a Band-Aid on a surgical scar.”
The bonding money would be used to replace aging sea walls next to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) and to fortify the Lakewalk trail, which was battered by recent storms.
“We don’t experience Lake Superior like a lake. It hits us like an ocean,” Larson said. “We have gale-force winds. We get hurricane-style blowing.”
The City Council voted on Monday to make shoreline infrastructure its top legislative priority for 2020.
Walz’s list also included $1.3 million to help fund a behavioral health crisis facility in St. Louis County and $7.7 million to clean up contamination at a Duluth city dump site.