The three-year, $343 million renovation to the "can of worms" interchange through Lincoln Park might have been delayed until 2021, but preliminary work on the project this fall will include demolition and rebuilding of the 27th Avenue West bridge over Interstate 35.

Bids will be accepted in September. The work to follow is expected to be completed in June 2021. The bridge will be closed for crossing, but "ramps will remain open as much as possible," said Cole Maetzold, major projects engineer for the Duluth office of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "The biggest impact will be getting across to (the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District)."

The primary detour will be 40th Avenue West.

The bridge is one of a number of bridges throughout the Twin Ports Interchange project corridor nearing the end of its life cycle. Among of the primary objectives of the massive project to rebuild I-35 at the confluence of U.S. Highway 53 and Interstate 535 is a reduction of some of the bridge infrastructure by bringing the roadway to ground level, while replacing the aging, but necessary, bridges that remain.

Traffic impacts on I-35 during the 27th Avenue bridge portion of the project will include periodic one-lane traffic in each direction and shoulder closures.

The project was mostly postponed for a full construction season in March. MnDOT engineers said they needed more time to figure out what to do with contaminated materials located under the elevated sections of freeway throughout the project.

The 27th Avenue West bridge was among a number of topics touched upon Monday during MnDOT's monthly online meeting update on the Twin Ports Interchange project.

Among other updates Monday

  • Work to demolish the Autobahn building at 2204 W. Michigan St. will commence this fall in order to accommodate the merging of Coffee Creek with Miller Creek into a giant box culvert under I-35 that will empty into St. Louis Bay.
  • The relocation of a gas mainline along West Michigan Street is expected to be completed in mid-July.
  • The ongoing relocation of a lift station near the intersection of 22nd Avenue West and Michigan Street could result in Cross City Trail detours, but "only when absolutely necessary," Maetzold said.
  • A travel-time system will be employed beginning next year that will use electronic signboards to tell travelers how long until their destinations. Going south, a sign on London Road will tell travel time to downtown and 27th Avenue West. Going north, a sign at Midway Road will tell travelers their estimated time to U.S. Highway 2 and downtown Duluth.
  • Preliminary engineering for the entirety of the Twin Ports Interchange project is now nearly 100% completed.
  • MnDOT is also beginning preliminary engineering work on the 2027-28 Blatnik Bridge rehabilitation project. Early work on the project, which features up to 50 piers, will examine piers on the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the bridge. Contractors will dig pits around pilings on each side of the bridge to determine what kind of shape they're in and if the steel pilings, which are in place around the piers, are able to be reused.
  • Finally, MnDOT said there are no price updates to the Twin Ports Interchange project and that costs updates won't be known until bids in September.