Minnesota Department of Transportation

TH 61 Stewart River

Preserving History and Improving Safety

Stewart River, a popular trout stream, crosses the two-lane TH 61 at its confluence with Lake Superior. Betty’s Pies, a landmark local North Shore Business that sits along Stewart River and TH 61 serves an estimated 1,000 vehicles per day during the summer tourist season, generating a high volume of turning movements. To improve safety at a challenging location, LHB provided design services for a solution that respected the historic bridge, the environmental sensitivity of the Stewart River, the scenic overlook of Lake Superior, and access management to Betty’s Pies. The project also included turn lane improvements at CSAH 3 and the Kelsey Beach parking area, intersection lighting, and native plant landscaping near the river.

Project Type New Construction, Bridge Rehabilitation, Road Construction
Location Two Harbors, MN
Completion Date October 2023
Size 1/2 mile
Bridge 3589 in the process of being fully-restored, alongside the newly constructed paralell bridge.

Bridging Time, Preserving Legacy

LHB led a robust environmental review and historic bridge study, of the historic Stewart River Bridge that determined restoring the existing bridge was possible through a detailed renovation plan. LHB provided the restoration plans that preserved the historic elements and converted the bridge to a one-way directional bridge while adding a new parallel bridge and pedestrian access.

The existing bridge and the new bridge (in the foreground), separate directional traffic.

Bridging Eras: Old Meets New

The safety improvements at the Betty’s Pies entrance necessitated adding dedicated turn lanes, however this could not be done while maintaining two-way traffic on the historic bridge. A new single-span bridge over the Stewart River was designed to separate directional traffic, allowing space to fit the turn lanes and safety appurtances.

A new sidewalk and raised pedestrian refuge island provides a safer crossing zone and accessibility.

Improving Pedestrian Experience

The existing bridge lacked pedestrian accomodations, yet the river, lakeshore, and Betty’s Pies drove many visitors by foot to the area. Recognizing this, a new 8-foot-wide pedestrian walkway was constructed across the highway and on the restored historic bridge, providing access to the nearby scenic overlook of Lake Superior.

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