Gravel time

A friend pointed me to an article in the Wall Street Journal on communities that are replacing paved roads with gravel in order to save money. Which led me to think… Duluth really ought to de-pave Hawk Ridge and Seven Bridges Roads as soon as possible.

I think it was only in the last ten years or so that the city splashed a half-assed layer of asphalt on those roads–within a year or two, they had deteriorated to the point where the “pavement” was bumpier than the gravel it was supposed to cover. By now, those roads are a barely navigable moonscape. Judging by the condition of various residential streets and important thoroughfares, I anticipate the city will probably have sufficient funds to properly re-pave Hawk Ridge and Seven Bridges about ten minutes before hell freezes over–so why not admit defeat on this one? Would it be all that expensive to run a grader up and down there every week or two in the summer? Is there some other compelling reason to stick with the mess that’s up there now?



about 13 years ago

Here ye, hear ye


about 13 years ago

I totally agree. It should be gravel. But I ran across a survey crew while I was biking Seven Bridges Road just a few days ago, and they say the city's going to pave it this summer.

The Big E

about 13 years ago

Interesting.  I guess I'll believe it when I see it.  If they actually do wind up repaving it, I hope they put a little more effort into it this time -- last time it looked as if they dumped a few dozen truckloads of loose asphalt here and there and tried to stamp it down with their boots.

hillside knitter

about 13 years ago

I agree. Depaving would also greatly improve Orange Street from Skyline to Arlington.


about 13 years ago

Gravel is an inferior surface for bicycling, skateboarding, roller blades and roller skis. I remember when I was a kid and the county used to spray oil on some of the gravel roads outside of Duluth to keep the dust level down.

The Big E

about 13 years ago

I don't think the current surface on SBR/HRR is suitable for any of those activities either though.  I wouldn't take my road bike down there unless I was being chased, anyhow.

Michael Latsch

about 13 years ago

I wouldn't go down SBR at speed on my road bike, but it's a heck of a fun climb.

Dave Hagen

about 13 years ago

I would not like to see it be gravel. Since most of the road is close to the river there would be a lot of sediment carried into Amity Creek during rains and spring runoff. I mountain bike that road frequently and appreciate its slower and reduced traffic due to the broken pavement. Cars are noticeably faster on the smoother sections. I hope the proposition here to "improve" the road with gravel or make a slick paved raceway to Lester Park does not encourage faster driving along this road. 
p.s.  It's best for biking when they just close the road off for winter.


about 13 years ago

I ride up SBR daily on a mtnbike.  There is already some significant erosion of the gravel portion of the road less than a block up from the Deeps on Amity Ck.  And just yesterday I passed a jeep going uphill and dodging this way and that to avoid all the crappy sections.  

The issue is not just the $$ the city doesn't have to repave a given road but also the fact that what we have so much of here is clay overlaying bedrock.  The clay is essentially always moving (due to our generally wet climate and wide-ranging temperatures) and as a result will not support over time the activity and weight upon it.  An engineer buddy said that to do a street right here a minimum of 15 feet of the clay overburden needs to be scraped off and hauled away and replaced with class 5 gravel to serve as a base for the roadbed.  That costs a LOT more money...


about 13 years ago

Tear it up.  I went running there in my vibrams this spring.  It was a disgrace.  Gravel would be much better.


about 13 years ago

Just close the road and make a bike trail there.  That wouldn't cost much at all.


about 13 years ago

The city could just use less roads. Why not phase out, say 15% of the roads. We could still get around, but neighborhoods will be more friendly.

Less roads. Do it.

Chris Julin

about 13 years ago

It's getting repaved in a matter of weeks. I just ran into a guy from the city Engineering Department who was up on SBR placing a few more survey stakes. 

Here's the scoop.

They'll start building some new culverts in the next few weeks and then repave the whole road. The project is supposed to be finished by the end of August.

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