Rebuilding Minnesota Highway 210 near Jay Cooke State Park

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) implemented several different solutions to address damage to Minnesota Highway 210 near Jay Cooke State Park to improve the future resilience of the highway. Measures include custom culvert design, soil stabilization, and replacing culverts with bridges. Multiple sections of Highway 210 remain closed while MnDOT conducts damage assessments and develops long-term plans.

The highway was damaged when the northeastern portion of the state experienced historic flooding in June 2012; the area received 10 inches of rain during a two-day storm in an area where soil was already saturated due to a storm earlier in the month. Highway 210, which passes through hilly terrain and has steep slopes on either side, sustained severe flood-related damage due to mud slides and overwhelmed culverts that washed away multiple sections of the highway or buried it in debris. MnDOT implemented the following resiliency measures when rebuilding damaged portions of the Highway:

  • West of the park entrance between Carlton and Thomson, floodwaters overwhelmed an 18-foot-diameter overflow pipe next to the Thomson Bridge over the St. Louis River, damaging the road approaching the bridge. MnDOT replaced the pipe and damaged roadway with a new 110-foot-long bridge preceding the Thomson Bridge. While the previous overflow pipe limited the overflow water to an area of 254 square feet, the new bridge provides 1,360 square feet of additional area for overflow water from the St. Louis River to bypass the Thomson Bridge, making the area more resilient to future flooding. Both the new bridge and the repaired Thomson Bridge were opened in December 2012.
  • The western entrance to Jay Cooke State Park was closed due to the failure of a 6-foot-diameter culvert beneath Highway 210. The flood washed away a section of the highway 35 feet deep and 100 feet wide. A MnDOT contractor installed a $310,000 custom-built box culvert with much greater capacity, 250 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. The culvert was installed, the road repaired, and access to Jay Cooke State Park Headquarters restored in October 2012.
  • East of the park headquarters, a 250-foot-wide and 50-foot-deep section of Highway 210 was washed away after an earthen embankment on the south shore of Forbay Lake failed, releasing 750 million gallons of water. A new bridge was designed to better stabilize soils in the area and restore access to the park from the east side. The new bridge design includes an additional bridge pier and 95-foot span to allow for the slopes beneath the bridge to be flatter and more stable than the original washed-out section. The new bridge, road repairs, new culverts, and soil stabilization cost over $2.8 million. After completion of the bridge in November 2013, visitors can now access the park from the west via Highway 210 as far east as Oldenburg Point, but are still unable to enter the park from the east due to ongoing work near the power generation facility.
  • The rain also caused mudslides along several areas of Highway 210. A 500-foot-long slope failure occurred above and below the highway along slopes around the Minnesota Power Generating Station, which is east of Oldenburg Point.  A 100-foot-wide section of the highway in the same area was washed away when a 7-foot-diameter culvert became clogged and failed.  To quickly restore access for Minnesota Power employees to the power generation facility, a new 12-foot diameter culvert was installed under an emergency contract. This section of the highway east of Oldenburg Point and near the power facility is currently open only to Minnesota Power employees and contractors. Additionally, to address future mudslides in several at-risk areas along the highway, MnDOT contracted with Soil Nail Launcher, Inc. under an emergency contract to stabilize several areas along Highway 210 through a technique called “soil nailing.”

Work began in May 2015 on the section of Highway 210 that serves as the east entrance to Jay Cooke State Park. In this area, MnDOT is repairing slopes and other damage, replanting stabilizing vegetation, and resurfacing the highway. When the work is complete, anticipated in October 2016, access to the park from the east will be restored and the highway will be less prone to damage from mudslides and erosion. Overall, project costs for all of the Highway 210 repairs are expected to be $21.3 million, with 80 percent provided by federal emergency funding and the other 20 percent by state emergency funds.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on March 31, 2016.


Publication Date: November 2013

Related Organizations:

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation


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Resource Types:

  • Case study

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