Duluth, a four-season city with 11,000 acres of green space alongside the greatest lake in the world, has miles and miles of trails that allow for travel on foot, skis, bike or snowmobile.Read more...
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• Population: 86,211
• Land area in square miles: 67.79
• Persons per square mile: 1,272
• Sister Cities: Petrozavodsk, Russia; Thunder Bay, Canada; Isumi-City, Japan; Växjö, Sweden; and Rania, Iraqi-Kurdistan.
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Emily was elected Mayor of Duluth in November 2015 with 72% of the vote. She was inaugurated on January 4th, 2016.More info...
Streets, the Community's Priority
You spoke, we listened. In the 2015 National Citizens Survey, 91% of the Duluth residents surveyed lacked confidence in our streets; 71% felt the same about sidewalks. Time and again, residents have told us that streets and potholes are a priority. We agree. We can, and must, do better.
Duluth streets and sidewalks serve millions of people per year.
Duluth is home to 86,293 residents, but we're also an important regional economic center. More than 35,000 people commute daily into Duluth for work, education or medical services, and we welcome 6.7 million annual visitors to Duluth for events, conventions and vacations. Currently, our streets funding is paid for entirely by residents through property tax levies. This model is not sustainable, does not generate enough revenue, and isn't meeting the community's needs. Residents, guests, and commuters: we all share a commitment to a strong Duluth. We can all be a part of a streets solution.
Safe, reliable streets and sidewalks, it’s what the community expects and values. The basic pavement maintenance Duluth has been undertaking only provides temporary fixes.
We practice effective preservation strategies to prolong street conditions using crack sealing, seal coats, and overlays.
However, we know that over 55% of our streets are listed in critical condition. We need to look at a long term reliable street program.
Street Preservation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
Road conditions change over time with use, due to varying weather conditions, geological layers, and time. Duluth has many challenges given our hilly and rock-laden topography coupled with winter conditions can hasten the age of our streets.
The City employs three (3) primary strategies:
The effectiveness of Public Works’ strategies for improved streets is greatly diminished if the funding is not adequate. Ideally the City should be investing $25 million dollars per year in street maintenance strategies. The current annual investment in Duluth streets is about $1.5 million dollars. Over the past decade, funding has been sporadic and critically reduced.
Funding History & Future Needs
The City of Duluth instituted a Street Improvement Program (SIP) in 1994 that was funded by bonding and debt service paid from: Community Investment Trust income, new growth in property taxes, and assessments.
In 2008/2009, the SIP was significantly modified to a Pay-as-you-go plan with no new bonding for street projects. A street fee was implemented in 2015 and garners $2.8 million some of which was used for debt reduction and the rest put into street projects. In 2017, the that fee was converted to a property tax.
The Pavement Condition Index (PCI) is an industry rating used to determine pavement conditions on a scale of 1-100, 1 being the worst and 100 being the best. The average rating for Duluth is unacceptable at 36; affecting 55% of the total miles of roads we maintain. The industry standards indicate that a healthy road system achieves a rating of 70. The current state of our streets is unacceptable. View the 2017 Street Improvement Program plan HERE.
*6% of Duluth roads are gravel and not rated
There are only a limited number of options available for the City to fund the existing debt and the anticipated future street improvement needs. Those options include an increase in property taxes for rehabilitation and reconstruction projects and a new proposal.
Mayor Emily Larson and City staff designated the Street Improvement Program (SIP) & are proposing a 1/2% transportation sales tax referendum that, if approved by the legislature, could garner approximately $7 million to be designated for the Street Improvement Program, thus tripling our current investment to $10 million. The current funding level only allows us to reconstruct less than 2 miles of roads each year. This proposal was presented to the City Council, is being presented at public meetings and various stakeholder groups with a referendum listed on the November 7 ballot before seeking legislative approval.
The public had opportunities to hear from Mayor Larson and city staff at these meetings in 2017:
Questions? Call (218) 730-5000