Two Harbors aims to be more of a destination on Highway 61 journey

By KBJR News 1

March 30, 2014 Updated Mar 30, 2014 at 11:05 PM CDT

Duluth, (NNCNOW.com) - More than 16,000 cars travel through Two Harbors daily during the summer and city officials are working with the state to point people towards businesses along the waterfront.

"People end up here by accident, said Louise Fransen of the restaurant Louise's Place, "and then they say 'oh we didn't even know there was a downtown two harbors.'"

City officials have been working since 2008 to try to get signs on Highway 61 promoting businesses in the downtown area. The idea has been turned down by the Minnesota Department of Transportation several times.

Now officials are working with the legislature on the community sign program.

It's a pilot program," said Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen, "we will be the only ones in the state of Minnesota that would be allowed to do this if passed through the legislature."

City officials say people traveling on Highway 61 don't realize there is more to Two Harbors then what meets the eye. But if there were signs pointing them in the right direction they may find some hidden treasures.

"If there was signage for everyone to come down, I think they would," said Fransen.

Fransen opened her place 20 years ago and says she has tried to get a sign on the highway promoting her business.

"I had tried to get them to have a sign just a small little blue sign pointing down to Lousie's Place many years ago," said Fransen, standing in her restaurant, "and I was turned down."

It's a similar story Leroy Veness, owner of Veness Bait and Tackle. He has a sign by Highway 61 that sits in the back of a pick–up truck.

"I've been trying to work with the city and state for numerous years," said Veness, "and no we have never had a permanent sign out there."

The proposal has passed through both House and Senate transportation committees.

The proposal will now move to the house and Senate finance committees.

If the measure is passed through the legislature, city officials say the signs could go up at the start of August.

Kati Anderson