MnDOT plans to fix Mesaba 'weave'
A precarious entrance onto Interstate 35 from downtown Duluth is getting a makeover in 2018. On Wednesday, the Duluth office of the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced a public meeting next week to address an $8.2 million roadway pro...
A precarious entrance onto Interstate 35 from downtown Duluth is getting a makeover in 2018.
On Wednesday, the Duluth office of the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced a public meeting next week to address an $8.2 million roadway project that will update Mesaba Avenue.
The work will reconfigure the roadway so as to eliminate the weave at the I-35 on-ramp which forces Superior Street and Mesaba Avenue traffic to compete for space to either get onto I-35 or continue west on city streets.
"It's a safety problem with a lot of things happening at the bottom of Mesaba where Superior Street and I-35 meet," said Brian Larson, a MnDOT project manager based in Duluth. "It's an area of conflict where crashes could occur and by eliminating that weave it's going to result in a better, safer highway. And, it will operate smoother from a traffic standpoint."
The open house is Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., at the Harrison Community Club, 3002 W. Third St.
In short, the project will better separate traffic heading onto I-35 from traffic staying on city streets.
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Once completed, westbound travelers intending to stay on city streets will drive over the bridge which now carries Michigan Street traffic as an eastbound one-way over the on-ramp to I-35. Reconfigured to accommodate westbound traffic, it will become a two-way bridge.
Both Superior Street and Mesaba Avenue traffic also will still be able to access I-35 in dedicated lanes defined by a barrier between the two.
The project will also rehab the Michigan Street bridge over Mesaba Avenue and the Mesaba Avenue bridge over Superior Street. Concrete repairs will remedy deterioration on Mesaba Avenue all the way up the roadway to the intersection with Central Entrance.
Additionally, bridges on the U.S. Highway 2 eastbound and westbound ramps over I-35 at 46th Avenue West will be rehabbed as a part of the Mesaba project.
"It's all part of the overall work," Larson said. "Sometimes when you have a similar type of work, bridge-work in this case, you get better bids packaging it together."
The Mesaba Avenue repair and reconfiguration will also feature accessibility updates throughout the route to sidewalks, curb ramps and signaling.
"It's a good project, a much-needed project from both a safety standpoint and an operation and traffic-flow standpoint," Larson said.
The Mesaba Avenue work is scheduled to begin next summer and carry into spring or summer 2019. The work will be conducted at the same time as the start of the city of Duluth's much-anticipated Superior Street rehabilitation downtown.
It's going to make for a busy downtown, but Larson said Mesaba will have at least one lane open in both directions throughout the project, and that entrance onto I-35 will always be available from Mesaba and West Superior Street.
"There's going to be a lot happening," Larson said of 2018's downtown construction docket. "There's going to be some pain involved."