New downtown streetscape coming?

Anyone who worked or spent time in downtown Duluth in the mid-1980s knows what an inconvenience it was when the downtown brick streetscape was being constructed. Streets and sidewalks were largely impassable as the bricks were installed and topped off with specialty streetlamps and concrete fixtures.

When finished, however, people — especially the tourists — loved it.

But decades of wear and tear show, patchwork repairs are evident and some posts and fixtures are damaged or missing. A ruptured water main which flooded the street on New Year’s Day on Superior Street near Lake Avenue, revealed the 16-inch diameter cast iron pipe dated back to 1887. And there’s a lot more old pipes under those downtown streets.

Now, with the downtown streetscape about 30 years old, it’s time to replace downtown streets and sidewalks and that aging infrastructure, Mayor Don Ness told more than 400 people at the Greater Downtown Council’s annual shindig Wednesday at the DECC.

The discussion about the reconstruction of Superior Street begins this year, he said.

“We know this is going to be a challenge, but it is much needed,” he said.

The city will seek input from the downtown community on the many aspects involved, including what width the street and sidewalks will be, he told the group.

And, he said, those variables are “much more than the typical street.”