The mission of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce is to be the representative voice of county for-profit and non-profit businesses
in working to improve the county economy and to address pressing county socioeconomic issues.
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Project 61 is the name given by the Grand Marais Business Coalition, a subdivision of the Cook County Chamber, to the two-year reconstruction of Minnesota Highway 61 through Grand Marais. The project is a big deal. It is designed not only to make important improvements and upgrades to the Highway 61 infrastructure, it also is an effort to slow traffic, increase pedestrian safety and create a more pleasant streetscape through Grand Marais.
If you haven't seen it, take a few enjoyable minutes to view a MnDOT animation of what it is hoped the final project will look like in central Grand Marais. You can view it HERE.
** A note about directions: Duluth is more west of Grand Marais than south, and Thunder Bay is more east than north. So we use "west" and "east" to describe directions toward those two cities.
In this first year of Project 61, work will focus on resurfacing the highway from Grand Marais two miles west toward Duluth and approximately seven miles east toward Canada. The box culvert at Fall River, about a mile west of Grand Marais also will be replaced while the road is torn up. Replacing that culvert will require that Highway 61 be shut down completely for about a month, beginning on Aug. 3. All traffic coming into Grand Marais from the west will be rerouted on County Road 7, which intersects with Highway 61 about 8 miles west of Grand Marais toward Duluth.
County Road 7 also will serve as a truck route for all truck traffic for the duration of the project.
Two important Highway 61 intersections in Grand Marais, at Broadway Avenue and at Eighth Avenue West, also will be totally reconstructed. Work on the two intersections was moved to the first year of the project so they would be fully open in 2021, when Highway 61 will be totally closed through the heart of Grand Marais from the Middle of May into late July.
That closure is required so that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency may remove soil contaminated with petroleum products. The contaminated soil is under and on both sides of Highway 61 between Third Avenue West and Second Avenue West. Removing it will require a pit 10 feet deep