Restoring Seven Bridges Road

We are about to lose our private cycling and walking trail.  It’s been nice while it’s lasted, but we knew it wouldn’t be forever.  And to be honest, Seven Bridges Road is such a treasure that the citizens of Duluth and our visitors ought to have access to this beautiful drive again.

For over two years, the road has been closed.  Contrary to popular belief, the major damage predates the flood of June 2012 by a couple of months.  The steep banks of Amity Creek became seriously eroded, carving away the land next to the road.  With the landslide area just inches from the roadbed, it became too dangerous for vehicles.  The flood added to the problems, causing a cave-in over a culvert a little further up the road, and further impairing bridge supports for the 3rd bridge.  Since no one lives on that portion of the road, it was a low priority for repairs.

IMG_5150All that changed this summer.  As soon as spring hit, the work began.  Trucks rumbled back and forth in front of our house all summer long as serious reconstruction took place.  Since the land next to the problem area rose steeply alongside the road, it required carving out the hill to move the road inland.  In addition, it meant relocating the cross-country ski trails as well (a project near and dear to our hearts, as we spend many hours on those trails).  We were anxious to see just how they were going to navigate that terrain.  I’ll admit, a few summer evenings we ambled up that way to take a sneak peak, and marveled at the huge mounds of dirt that would eventually transform the landscape.

Recently there has been an uptick in activity.  Longer work hours and even bigger trucks hauling.  Then it happened almost without our noticing it.  The absence of noise.  The lack of truck traffic.  Sure enough, a day or more went by without a single construction vehicle.  Did that mean the road was completed?  We just had to find out.

IMG_5152To our amazement, the pavement was complete and work was progressing nicely on  landscaping the area.  Where the road once went straight along the creek, it now safely curves inland with a berm between it and the edge of the drop-off.  Adjacent to the road, the ski trails follow a new path inland which is strikingly similar to the old route through the woods.IMG_5157

There is a hefty new culvert to replace the old one, and enough heavy duty drainage rocks to handle the worse rains.  All with a new roadbed over it.IMG_5156

The 3rd bridge is still undergoing repairs.  The footings have been replaced, and where the road was falling away from the bridge, a new concrete extension is in the works.  Soon it will be rocked in to look like the rest of the bridge.  A nice touch.

It’s getting close.  I hear the goal is to open the road by the end of the month.  I’d put my money on them making it.

I’ll miss being able to cycle up the road knowing there will be no cars.  It will undoubtedly mean more traffic going past our house.  And I dread the day the motorcyclists rediscover the road, noisily revving their engines as they roar by.  But it’s good to see the road restored.  Just in time for leaf season, when Seven Bridges is in its glory.  Then I can look forward to winter when the steepest sections of the road are closed for the season.  And we will have our private trail once again.

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