Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Sandpiper oil line construction postponed


The hearing process for an approved route for the Sandpiper oil line from Clearbrook, Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin, continues with another postponement of pipeline construction until at least the fall of 2016.

Hearings will be conducted on the pros and cons of the preferred Enbridge line through 46 miles of Carlton County west to east or a proposed alternate route following the Interstate 94 corridor south toward the Twin Cities and back up via the I-35 corridor to the Superior terminal. This proposed second route would add considerable miles of additional pipeline corridor and impact a much larger area of the Minnesota landscape.

Carlton County officials continue to attend informational meetings and provide input when needed. Enbridge has started the approval process for a second line to follow the initial Sandpiper pipeline. This line will be bigger and replace an old oil line now crossing the northeast corner of Carlton County southeast of Floodwood through the Fond du Lac tribal lands.

"The certificate of need has been approved earlier," Christine Davis, an Enbridge informational person, commented by phone. "The route will require more hearings around the state. This process takes time and will make late 2016 construction of the Sandpiper a more realistic projection. Once a route is approved, the Sandpiper initial line will be constructed and tested and then the next line will be put in."

At their July 14 regular meeting the Carlton County Board of Commissioners accepted the low bid of M&K Constructors from southern Minnesota of $248,000 for the deck replacement of the bridge over the Kettle River on County Road 131. State road and bridge bonding money of $234,000 will be matched by a Carlton County expenditure of $14,000.

Deck replacement will have timbers installed over new bridge beams. A bituminous overlay will seal the bridge deck. A November completion is expected in which the bridge crossing will be closed and school buses, for example, will use alternate routes. Dependent on the fall weather, the bituminous overlay may not be finished until the spring construction season.

The county board voted to support the Fond du Lac Tribal Band for funding the Big Lake Trail as a Trail of Regional Significance and thus have a chance for state trail funding this next session. Greg Bernu, county land commissioner, explained, "This trail will link in with trails in the Cloquet area. This funding is for non-motorized trails and recreational trails such as the Soo Line Trail cannot be funded through this source."

He went on to explain, "The last legislative session funded only two outstate projects — the rest were all in the Twin Cities area. We are competing with limited funding."

The county board went on record approving the reduced nursing bed occupancy for the Sunnyside Nursing Care Facility next to the Cloquet Memorial Hospital. Beds have been reduced from 88 to 44 as the nursing home population continues to be placed in assisted living situations throughout the area.

The approved letter from the board to the Minnesota Department of Human Services noted, "We understand Sunnyside Health Care Center is and always will be an integral part of the mission of the County Memorial Hospital.”


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