It’s hard to believe that another summer is just around the corner! Soon, the trees will be blooming, the geese will return, and the temperatures will rise. Of course, this IS Minnesota, so the summer will also bring a plethora of road construction projects. Many of the planned 2021 Road Construction Season projects will have a direct impact on the cities of Duluth, Two Harbors, and Grand Marais. Here we will take a look at the projects and how they may affect your summer trip Up North.

Grand Marais Highway 61 Project

**For details on navigating downtown Grand Marais click here**

Grand Marais will receive a dramatic facelift during the 2021 Road Construction Season. Work that started in the summer of 2020 continues May through October. This year, the project will be focused on the west end of town. Work will cause single-lane traffic or see complete closures of sections of Highway 61 between 8th Ave West to Broadway Ave. For those familiar with Grand Marais, this is the stretch of road the runs through the town from the RV Park to the Holiday gas station. Access to downtown will remain open through the summer.

Here are the May to August and August to October closures and detours:

2021 Road Construction Season Highway 61 May to August 2021 Road Construction Season Highway 61 Project August to October

As you can see, 8th Ave W to County Road 7 (which runs past the YMCA and the school) to Gunflint Trail is the planned detour. This detour includes some changes that may be new to visitors. These include a temporary street light at the County Road 7 and 5th Ave W intersection (near the hospital). Also, the County Road 7/Gunflint Trail intersection will become a 4-way stop.

Detour Safety

When taking the County Road 7 detour, please note that the road goes past the Grand Marais Community Center, the YMCA, two schools, two daycares, and three playgrounds. Even in the summer months, this area sees a lot of foot traffic, especially from children.  Two summer camps are based out of this area, and the two daycares in the area operate in the summer. The speed limit between 5th Ave W and the Gunflint Trail is 20 mph. Last year, the Sheriff’s Department paid close attention to this area and issued many traffic citations. Please pay close attention to the speed limit and abide by it! No one likes to get a speeding ticket on vacation!

Affected Homes

Blue Lake Bungalow, Grand Marais Retreat, Robin’s Nest, and Voyageur House are CVR homes that will be directly affected by this year’s project. Blue Lake Bungalow and Voyageur House will see increased traffic on their road as they are both located on 8th Ave W. So while the detours will not affect access to those homes, they will see an increase in traffic and noise this year. Robin’s Nest is located on 7th Ave W and will possibly experience issues accessing the property from Highway 61. Please follow signs and detours as needed.

Here is a rendering showing that changes being made to this area this summer.

Highway 61 Projects Near 8th Ave W

Meanwhile, over at Grand Marais Retreat, a major beautification project will plop a community space practically in the home’s front yard! We expect this change to be very lovely and welcoming when completed. However, during the duration of the 2021 Highway 61 construction project, both the parking area and walkway to the home from 1st St will be affected in various ways. This work has already started! Current guests will notice that the area between the home and the road has been dug up to replace a pipe and the area is flagged. We will continue to evaluate the project and alert guests to changes, as needed. We do know that the home will be accessible through the summer.

Here is a rendering of what the area in front of Grand Marais Retreat will look like once work is complete. Grand Marais retreat is labeled left-center on the first image.

Grand Marais Retreat Highway 61 Project

Grand Marais Retreat Highway 61 Project Rendering

For all affected properties, we have adjusted prices to reflect the inconvenience that the construction project may bring guests.

Properties North and East of Grand Marais

While the bulk of the work is happening on the west end of Grand Marais, guests staying on the Gunflint Trail and areas east of Grand Marais (Croftville Road, Hovland) will be affected by traffic detours. Be aware and plan ahead!

Duluth to Two Harbors Resurfacing Project

As if the work being done in Grand Marais wasn’t enough, work is happening in Duluth and Two Harbors, as well! The 2021 Road Construction Season includes resurfacing and intersection work on the section of Highway 61 that connects Duluth to Two Harbors. All guests traveling up from Duluth will be affected. Seven miles of highway from Knife River to Two Harbors will be resurfaced. There will also be new guardrails and culvert work happening. Traffic will still flow in both directions but at a slower speed and one-lane each way. See the map below for details.

2021 Road Construction Season Highway 61 Resurfacing Duluth to Two Harbors

This project will not directly affect any of our properties.

As a fun alternative, consider taking the Scenic Drive out of Duluth! The road is only 40 mph along a good chunk of it, but the scenery is beautiful! Plus, you can grab a bite to eat the New Scenic Drive Cafe. Or, go visit our friends at the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen along the way.

Duluth 1-35 Work

As if the Highway 61 projects weren’t enough, Duluth is also seeing a lot of action! The 2021 Road Construction Season includes work on 1-35 at the 1-535/Hwy 53 interchange. If you aren’t too familiar with Duluth, this is in the area where the Duluth Grill, Wild State Cider, and the Bent Paddle Brewery are located. Hwy 53 leads to the Enger Park Golf Course and Miller Hill Mall. 1-353 leads to the Blatnik Bridge connecting Duluth to Superior, WI.

While the work will not directly affect any of CVR’s properties, everyone driving through Duluth will feel the impact. There will be a single lane of traffic in either direction on 1-35 between 27th Ave and Garfield Ave. There will be short-term ramp closures along 1-35. Also, Lower Michigan Street will be closed.

This project is massive and will continue through the summer of 2024! Some closures will remain even outside of the 2021 Road Construction Season. As always, we recommend planning ahead. Give yourself a little more time to get through Duluth.

2021 Road Construction Season in Duluth

And That’s Not All!

Hey, it’s Minnesota. In the summer. It’s our time to fix potholes and improve county roads, as well. Side streets and beloved roads like the Gunflint Trail will see some repairs and improvements. Notable, resurfacing work will continue along the Gunflint Trail that may cause some delays for our Gunflint Trail guests. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard of when and where work will be happening this year. When we learn more, we will of course let you know!

Until then, drive safe, plan ahead, and have a great summer! And check out this video of how Grand Marais should look once construction concludes this summer: