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MN Bridge Work Resumes After Graveyard Found

Friday, November 22, 2019

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Late last month, work on a bridge project in Duluth, Minnesota, was announced to resume sometime next year, due to a delay brought on by the desecration of a Native American burial site. Burial recovery is set to finish this fall, and now project workers will be trying to beat the weather.

According to the Star Tribune, work on the Mission Creek bridge replacement was ceased in spring 2017, once the state was informed by members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa that the area was a likely burial site, but not before human remains were found.

Mission Creek Bridge Replacement

The bridge—a double span, multi-plate arch culvert with granite headwalls and concrete abutments—was built in 1937 by A. Bodin and Co. The structure, designed by the Minnesota Department of Highways, was reportedly built during the apex of New Deal construction.

According to the state department of transportation, the agency began working on the project, a bridge replacement that would allow for a larger waterway, in mid-May 2017. Work was delayed due to the accidental disturbance of the burial ground.

Early last month, the burial recovery process was completed, and processed soils could be brought back to the site; the central cemetery slope was also stabilized.

In addition, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) also announced contracting with a landscape architect for the development of a final site design. Input on the design is still being welcomed.

Recent Developments

To date, the endeavor has cost $6 million, which includes the previously completed construction work. Late last month, neighborhood residents raised questions, which had been voiced previously, as to why this work had proceeded despite there being records of burial grounds in the area.

“It is apparent that the cemetery has been previously disturbed, probably more than once,” said MnDOT spokesperson Stephanie Christensen. “It should not have happened in the first place. At this point it’s just a matter of stopping and doing what is right and what should have been done a long time ago.”

According to the Star Tribune, though the scale of this recovery remains an uncommon phenomenon, burial sites and human remains are found throughout the state on a yearly basis.

“Minnesota is really rich in cultural resources, so the potential is very high,” Christensen said.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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