HOLDING UP: Duluth Lakewalk solid despite strong storm

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 3:22 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Duluth’s iconic Lakewalk was hit by strong waves Thursday, but a city engineer says it’s holding up well since reconstruction.

The Lakewalk was battered by a series of storms between 2017 and 2018 that wiped away land along the shoreline.

A $16 million project, the city redesigned the former Lakewalk in favor of wider trails.

In addition to new trails, a new seawall was added to help protect the shore from strong waves and high tides when storms roll through.

On Thursday, tourists from across the state and Northland made their way to the Lakewalk in Canal Park to get a glimpse of the whitecaps.

“I specifically wanted to see the waves, it’s been on my bucket list for a long time, to see the waves,” Christine Walberg, from Bloomington, said.

Walberg came up with some of her family to see the huge swells over the weekend. Later this weekend, they plan to travel up the Northshore for more winter weather.

Walberg said she had never seen the waves before.

“You really feel how small you are and just a sense of how powerful the water and the lake is,” she said.

That power destroyed the Lakewalk between Canal Park and Brighton Beach just a few years ago when a series of storms washed away parts of the shoreline. Mike LeBeau, the City of Duluth’s Construction Project Supervisor, said the Lakewalk was reconstructed.

“To get farther away from the damage we raised everything up so we retreated vertically from the Lake,” LeBeau said.

Crews took three years to repair the Lakewalk to what it is today. Around $16 million was used for the reconstruction that was done in several phases. The team added boulders to help break up waves, like the swells Thursday.

“When we get down there, what we mostly added was 100,000 tons of rock,” he said.

The rocks help protect infrastructure along the Lakewalk, from the trail itself to lights for people to see where they’re going.

LeBeau said he doesn’t necessarily know what will happen in the future, but for now, the Lakewalk is solid.

“You know the engineers prediction 50 to 75 years minimum,” he said.

And while the Lakewalk gives northlanders scenic walks all year round it helps keep Duluth safe from millions of gallons of water.

“This is so different than anything that’s been ever built here before, it’s so massive, it’s really robust,” LeBeau said.