Weather Forecast


Snarls, snail's pace at Split Rock

Traffic crawls along Highway 61 near the entrance to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park last week. Major road reconstruction is having an impact on traffic flow. Forum Newspapers

If you've been caught in the major Highway 61 road work near Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, you know what a headache the traffic can be and a headscratcher the work can be as tons of rock is removed to create a straighter path for the road when it is done next summer.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is deep into a big Lake County project to straighten, widen and otherwise make a safer Highway 61 on the North Shore along a four-mile stretch in front of the park's main entry. Taking out the dangerous curve just north of the scenic overlook means blasting away tons of rock, much like the Lutsen project that wrapped up last year in Cook County.

The park will remain open during highway construction, but serious traffic delays are happening during normal construction hours.

When this latest stretch of Highway 61 is completed, nearly half of the North Shore highway between Two Harbors and Grand Marais will have been reconstructed in the past 20 years.

Here are some facts to ponder while stuck in your car at the Split Rock project:

- Project length: 4 miles

- Cost: $10.7 million

- General Contractor: KGM Constructors

- Started: May 3

- Completion: July 30, 2011

- Rocks blown up: 196,000 cubic yards (enough to cover the playing field of Target Field in Minneapolis to a depth of 16 feet.)

- Feet of 3-inch blasting holes packed with explosives to blast rock: 25,000 (nearly five miles.)

- Amount of blasting agent used: 200,000 pounds of PowerNel (ammonium nitrate/ hydrocarbon emulsion) which looks like pudding and is pumped into the holes.

- Blown-up rock: Crushed on site and used as fill for the new roadbed and the foot-deep base under a new, 6-inch-thick asphalt pavement

- Amount of new asphalt to cover new roadway: 27,000 tons, some 1,125 semi-tractor/truck loads.