The News Tribune’s July 23 “Our View” editorial, “Rail and trail: Still time to work together for St. Louis River corridor,” brought much-needed attention to the ill-conceived plan to drastically shorten the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad. The plan would destroy the best part of the train ride by removing the causeway across Mud Lake, a shallow bay on the west side of the St. Louis River channel.
The discussion to date has seemed very unfair, pitting LS&M against the entire St. Louis River. Thus, the plan for causeway removal is justified in the name of “protecting that river,” as Mayor Emily Larson said on the Sunday Opinion page, and for “the health of the river,” according to Duluth Director of Public Administration Jim Filby Williams. To be both fair and meaningful, the discussion should focus only on the short stretch of river at Mud Lake. No public case has been made that I know of that river restoration at Mud Lake requires causeway removal.
The News Tribune surely knows of a 2013 study of Mud Lake prepared for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. It wasn’t mentioned in the editorial, nor is it mentioned in the city’s proposed plan. This study shows the Mud Lake shoreline has not changed substantially since 1861, before the causeway was built. Apparently the existing bridge in the causeway may provide sufficient water exchange between the two sides of Mud Lake to maintain its health, although hydrology studies would be needed to confirm this. The study also suggests two additional bridges may enhance recreational fishing. It never proposes or even considers removal of the causeway.
In the editorial, Mayor Larson spoke of “compromise … to accommodate everyone’s best hope and first wish.” Compromise with whom? We know the position of LS&M’s dedicated volunteers. But who wants to get rid of the railroad causeway and why? The public deserves answers.
Source: Reader’s View: Why does city want to get rid of causeway? | Duluth News Tribune