Talking Tourism: Let’s do the Zipper Merge by Linda Jurek

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: May 2019

Talking Tourism: Let’s Do the Zipper Merge by Linda Jurek, Executive Director

What’s that you ask? No it’s not a lesson from my Home Economic class of 1973 but rather a traffic term used during construction. With our Highway 61 construction project of 2020 and 2021, we need to understand the lingo. When you see a sign noting a lane closure and the instruction to merge, do you merge right away? And then do you watch with irritation as other drivers simply continue until the last merge point? The driver who continues and merges at the last possible point is actually doing what is recommended. However, it only works if all drivers understand and are courteous and thoughtful.

Using the zipper merge will not be as critical for our project; however, it will help you navigate the North Shore during lane reductions. More importantly, the courteous and thoughtful approach is what I’m keen on.

I just returned from attending a meeting of the Highway 61 Steering Committee. Many groups were represented the Grand Marais Business Coalition, Grand Marais Area Tourism Association, Grand Marais city officials, Cook County officials, Cook County Chamber and GM citizens. We heard a brief update and were provided the opportunity to provide input for strategies on parking, signage and branding. I am stoked. Over 30 business owners and citizens were in attendance. Great questions were presented in a respectful manner. Mike Roth, City Administrator noted that MN DOT will be opening bids for the project June of 2019. There will also be cost sharing conversations regarding implementation and maintenance of sidewalk, trails, street lights, benches, planters, etc.

Remember the Burma Shave signs? They were witty and fun and more importantly, impressed the reader with a lasting message. I think we can all agree that the MN DOT signage which is a requirement for most road construction, serves its purpose, but we can add an element of enjoyment to construction. The Highway 61 Steering Committee will be restarting our engines to provide input on parking, branding and marketing for this exciting project. As traffic is detoured into Grand Marais on Cty. Rd. 7, we visualize signage that sends a positive message and helps direct our visitors and locals alike.

And of course, stay educated and positive. We can discuss this construction project in an upbeat way. We don’t need to apologize. Rather, we should build excitement for the end result. A negative attitude and a constant complaint will drive people away and a fun atmosphere will bring them back. Stay tuned on all construction details on the City of Grand Marais website. Patrick Knight, Communications Manager for Grand Marais, will also be creating a new site call

Linda Jurek July 2016


Cook County News Herald by Linda Jurek