- Associated Press - Sunday, October 8, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - A scenic highway in northeast Minnesota that runs along a steep ridge above the St. Louis River has finally reopened, five years after mudslides washed it out during heavy rains.

Highway 210 is the only highway that runs through Jay Cooke State Park southwest of Duluth. It was heavily damaged after more than 10 inches of rain fell in the region during the summer of 2012, Minnesota Public Radio reported .

Mudslides washed out more than 70 spots. In one section, a wide torrent of water raced downhill and created a chasm in the roadway nearly 600 feet (183 meters) across and about 100 feet (30 meters) deep.

“When I first saw the road after the flood, I was convinced we’d never drive through the park again,” said Jay Cooke State Park naturalist Kristine Hiller. “It just was so damaged.”

The roadway didn’t see a lot of traffic, but the public overwhelmingly supported fixing the damage - despite a $21 million price tag to fix the final span of 3.3 miles (5 kilometers). The bulk of the cost was covered by federal emergency funds.

The highway twists and turns high above the river. It follows a historic portage trail that once connected the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River basin.

Engineers said the repair project was one of the most high-tech road projects completed in the region. It includes 1,800 sensors imbedded in the slopes above and below the highway, powered by solar panels. The sensors relay information hourly, and if they detect any movement in the soil, engineers are notified.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation was able to more quickly repair the highway section that led to the park’s visitor center and a popular overlook. An iconic swinging bridge has also been reopened, and repair work was completed along most of the flood-damaged hiking trails.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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