Work will continue on the Duluth Interchange Project the week of March 29 and the Minnesota Department of Transportation is giving Northland motorists a heads-up on what to expect near the infamous 'can of worms' area throughout the week.

During the week, MnDOT expects traffic impacts to include permanent ramp closures on Highway 53 and single closures on I-35.

Here's what to expect during the week:

Monday, March 29 

  • The intersection of Piedmont and West 1st Street will be closed. Traffic will be detoured.

Tuesday, March 30 

  • Northbound I-35 traffic from 27th Avenue West to Garfield Avenue will be reduced to a single lane.
  • The ramp from northbound I-35 to northbound Highway 53 will be permanently closed. New ramps for the interchange are anticipated to open in fall, 2023.
  • The ramp from Garfield Avenue to northbound I-535 will close between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for guardrail repair. Traffic will be detoured.

Thursday, April 1 

  • The ramp from southbound Highway 53 to southbound I-35 will permanently close. New ramps for the interchange are anticipated to open in fall, 2023.
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It seems like a good week steer clear of that area in general.  With this project expected to take quite awhile to finish, I'm already thinking of alternate routes to use for the long term to try to avoid the 'can of worms' until the project finally reaches completion.

The ultimate goal of the Duluth Interchange Project, as stated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, is to "enhance safety by eliminating blind merges and left exits, replace aging infrastructure, and better accommodate freight movements through the interchanges next to the Clure Public Terminal."

In summary, the project will reconstruct I-35/I-535/Hwy 53 interchange to improve safety by:

  • Providing a new conventional design
  • Relocating all exits and entrances to the right side of the roadway
  • Improving merging sight distance and eliminating merge conflicts
  • Eliminating weaving problems near the interchange
  • Providing lane continuity for through I-35 traffic

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