Update on Mission Creek Restoration Project

DULUTH, Minn.– Revised cost estimates are in for what started as a bridge construction project at Mission Creek and turned into a burial recovery project.

New numbers show the restoration will cost the Minnesota Department of Transportation an estimated $17 million above the project costs original estimate.

A situation in the Fond du Lac neighborhood in the far west part of Duluth that has been going on for almost three years is taking another step towards a resolution. But several years of work still remain.

Ever since road construction disturbed a native burial site in 2017, the MnDOT has been working to fix the problem. They have been working with the State Archeologist’s office, Fond du Lac leaders, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and others to restore the burial site.

The recovery project has now moved into landscape design. Several meetings have taken place and final concepts have been presented to Fond du Lac’s Reservation Business Committee. Urban Ecosystems have been hired as the architect for the restoration.

This has been a long process for everyone involved but all parties have come together to try and get the job done.

“It’s a challenging situation because nobody has ever experienced this before,” said Stephanie Christensen, information officer at MnDOT. “We have several entities that are working together to try to do the right thing. In many ways, we are just tackling what comes at us when it comes.”

More burial recovery work and shovel tests need to be done at Mission Creek’s burial grounds. If more burial sites are found, a team will be called in to sift through the area again. But this plan is not expected to delay the timeline of the restoration.

Recovery efforts are scheduled to begin this fall and MnDOT hopes to be done before this winter. Once the recovery is completed, road construction can start in 2024.

There will also be a public meeting to discuss the latest details on the Highway 23 bridge replacement project. That will take place Thursday at the Gary New Duluth Rec Center from 6-7 p.m.

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