US Army Corps of Engineers
Detroit District Website

Public Notice Manager

Pier Rehabiliation at the Duluth Vessel Yard-Section 106 Adverse Effect and Draft MOA

United States Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
Published Nov. 2, 2020
Expiration date: 11/30/2020



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District, is proposing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) regarding the rehabilitation of North and South Piers and Headwall (collectively referred to as the Structures) of the USACE Vessel Yard in Duluth, Minnesota. This notice is provided pursuant to Section 800.6 of 36 C.F.R Part 800, Protection of Historic Properties, and Section 106 of 54 U.S.C. Subtitle III, National Preservation Programs. A copy of the MOA will be provided upon request or can be reviewed online at by clicking on the link to "Other Public Notice" in the bottom left corner.

The proposed undertaking will keep the essential form and function of the Duluth Vessel while ensuring that the project area is updated to current safety standards while also protecting existing historic structures from storm events and allow the facility to continue in its historic use. The North and South Piers and Headwall have all been impacted by high lake levels, storm events, and vessel traffic and in their current conditions threaten the safety of personnel working in the Vessel Yard and the continued, effective operation of the Vessel Yard itself. Additionally, due to internal structural failures and undermining, the Structures are no longer safe to use and the USACE can no longer use the North Pier for vessel securing.

The USACE has considered several alternatives regarding the future of the Structures: Alternative 1: No Action, Alternative 2: Reconstruction, and Alternative 3: Rehabilitation. The No Action alternative consists of the USACE taking no action to repair or rehabilitate the failing Structures. This alternative was discarded as it would lead to the eventual disuse of the Duluth Vessel Yard and destruction of the Structures themselves. Alternative 2 consists of restoring the Structures to the same condition prior to their exposure to high lake levels, storm events, and vessel traffic. The Structures have undergone such degradation that they are likely not salvageable with most materials unsuitable to be reused. Therefore, Alternative 2 was not considered feasible and was discarded. Alternative 3 consists of altering the Structures in such a way that the facility can continue to to meet current and future mission requirements, while also meeting modern safety standards and protecting existing historic structures. The undertaking will involve repairing existing surficial concrete associated with the outer edges of the Structures, encapsulating them with new concrete and a curb, and installing steel-sheet pile around the perimeter ultimately resulting in the Structure being enlarged by three (3) feet on all sides and a raised height of eight (8) inches. Alternative 3 has been selected as the recommend repair as it will ensure that that the Vessel Yard can continue to serve its primary function by providing a safe and functional area for current and future USACE operations and provide protection from future climate change related issues.



The Vessel Yard Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the Structures to be altered are contributing resources to the historic nature of the Vessel Yard. The USACE, in consultation with the SHPO, has determined that the proposed undertaking will have an "adverse effect" on the historic nature of the Vessel Yard, as the activities needed for adequate rehabilitation will modify the size, profile, and design of the historic features and will significantly change the setting of the historic district’s buildings and engineering features.

The USACE has provided its determination to the SHPO pursuant to 36

C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (54 U.S.C. § 306108). The USACE and SHPO have reached a tentative agreement regarding mitigation of the undertaking’s "adverse effect", the terms of which are outlined in the proposed MOA. Under the MOA, the USACE will carry out recordation of the Structures in accordance with "Minnesota Historic Property Record Guidelines (updated June 2009)" Level I Documentation standards.

Additionally, the USACE has agreed to develop interpretive signage that addresses the history of the USACE Duluth Vessel Yard with a focus on the deteriorating effects of changing climate and rising Great Lakes’ water levels on the historic engineering features (including the Structures). The interpretive signage will be developed and installed within one (1) year of substantial completion of the proposed project. The signage will be displayed at the Lake Superior Maritime Museum, Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota and possibly outside of the Vessel Yard for at least one (1) year.

To assist in development of the MOA for the rehabilitation of the Structures, we are requesting members of the public to express their views and submit comments regarding the proposed project within thirty (30) days from the date of this notice. If no comments are received by the end of the thirty (30) day review period, it will be assumed that no comments are forthcoming. Please provide all comments by email to with the subject line "Duluth Vessel Yard."