Interstate 35 lane closures through the can of worms interchange in Duluth will be limited to a single year during the multi-year project, which will also be characterized by a red brick aesthetic to match the old buildings in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Those were the biggest takeaways from Monday's monthly update by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The $342 million project begins with preliminary side-street work this year and carries into 2023.
The 2020 traffic impact figures to be the hardest on travelers, and will include single-lane closures on I-35. One positive: I-35 will never close during the project.
"This will have a major traffic impact on everyone - not just businesses and commuters, but everyone in the city of Duluth and everyone who comes to Duluth," said MnDOT project manager Roberta Dwyer. "The reality is we have to do this work and there is going to be some pain."
Officially dubbed the Twin Ports Interchange Reconstruction Project, the project will fortify and make safer the knot of ramps and elevated roadways between interstates 35, 535 and U.S. Highway 53.
In order to brace for the bulk of the work which begins in 2020, MnDOT will rehabilitate four roads this upcoming construction season located immediately off of the can of worms interchange - 27th and 46th avenues West, Garfield Avenue and Railroad Street. At one time or another, all of the ramps are scheduled to be closed.
"If there's congestion on the interstate (35), people are going to find alternative routes," Dwyer said, "and based on history those are the routes traffic will divert to."
The monthly project updates feature midday and evening sessions, with identical MnDOT presentations at each one. The early session on Monday saw more than 50 people attend.
That was an uptick from previous meetings. Dwyer credited MnDOT having a project booth at this month's Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel and RV Show with the increased participation.
Regarding the concrete work which will be formed to look like dark reddish-brown bricks, Dwyer added that the visual quality aspect of infrastructure work is built into MnDOT policy nowadays, and "is something communities are really demanding."
Next Can of Worms Updates
Twin Ports Interchange Reconstruction Project Public Meetings
• March 25 at Clyde Iron Works (2920 W. Michigan St.)
• Session 1: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• Session 2: 6-7 p.m.