The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, decided to revoke a road-use license with the city of East Gull Lake, in Cass County, Minnesota, and permanently close to through traffic a portion of East Gull Lake Drive effective Dec. 1, 2025. The St. Paul District will maintain an agreement with the city to allow use and maintenance of the roadway through 2025, allowing time for the city and county to construct a new roadway alignment.
The portion of road impacted by the license revocation in December 2025 runs from the entrance of the Gull Lake Campground northward to the intersection of East Gull Lake Road and County Road 105.The decision comes after a year-long evaluation of the segment of road located on the Gull Lake Recreation Area, approximately 10 miles northwest of Brainerd, Minnesota.
The Corps of Engineers has had a revocable license with the city of East Gull Lake to use and maintain a section of East Gull Lake Drive, adjacent to the Gull Lake Dam, since April 17, 1926. Following an emergency repair project to stabilize the slope between the road and river in the fall of 2017, multiple issues came to light:
- Safety: Traffic counts collected during the summer of 2018 found an average of 1,400 vehicles per day use the road, with around 2,000 per day on busy weekends. This causes an issue with pedestrian safety for campers crossing the road and bridge to access the Corps recreation area day use facilities. In 2018 there were three accidents on the road at the East Gull Lake Drive/County Road 105 “T” intersection. Two resulted in fatalities. The road crosses a Corps owned, one-lane bridge with limited sight lines into and out of the bridge approaches.
- Maintenance: The Corps dam and bridge structure was constructed in 1911. Currently the road has oversized vehicles, to include semis and loaded dump trucks, crossing the bridge and dam. Closing the road would result in less wear and tear and will help reduce long-term maintenance costs.
- Cultural/historical: The roadway currently crosses over and through a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Five tribes with ties to this area have requested the road be closed to vehicular traffic.
During the evaluation process, St. Paul District staff met multiple times with city and county officials and representatives from tribal nations with ties to the area. A public meeting was held July 25, 2018, as part of a public comment period.
City and County officials need time to identify an alternative: The December 2025 timeframe for revoking the license and closing the road to through traffic will give Cass County and the city of East Gull Lake adequate time to apply for funding, acquire land, design a new roadway alignment, comply with federal laws and complete construction before the road is closed. The city and county had planned for a new roadway alignment in 2000, which was not implemented yet remains viable.
The St. Paul District will continue to support efforts by the city of East Gull Lake and Cass County as they identify an alternate roadway, including conversations to explore possible state and federal funding sources.
The Corps of Engineers will discuss with city and county officials ways to reduce traffic volume and type and improve pedestrian safety until the road closure goes into effect.