Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

I-35, I-535, Hwy 53 Twin Ports Interchange

Duluth

About this project

This map shows the location of Twin Ports Interchange improvements in Duluth, which include the reconstruction of the I-35/I-535/Hwy 53 interchange.

Once completed, this project will 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.

Due to higher costs than estimated, Component 2 (Highway 53 bridges) and Component 3 (Garfield Avenue/I-535 interchange) are deferred until funding is secured. In November of 2019, it was announced that the project as a whole would be deferred one year. Some construction will begin this fall, but the public will not see significant traffic impacts until the spring of 2021. Next spring, the project will move forward with I-35 traffic in single lane configuration. In the fall, northbound traffic will remain on I-35, and southbound traffic will be moved to Lower Michigan Street as planned.

Summary of work

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

Animation video

See what the freeway will look like when completed from a motorist’s view heading north on I-35 through the Twin Ports Interchange area, then heading to southbound I-35 from I-535, or the Blatnik Bridge, through the Twin Ports Interchange area.

What’s that mound between the interstate?

We get that question a lot. Some people ask if it’s hay bales. What it is actually is our testing site.

With the Twin Ports Interchange project, MnDOT will remove all low level bridges on I-35 and replace them on an earth fill inside of retaining walls. This is being done because dirt fills are less maintenance and less cost than bridges. What you see is a test "ground improvement" section, and the pipes are instrumentation for monitoring settlement and lateral displacement.

View more photos and read more about the process.

Project update meetings

Freight connection

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Current interchange at I-35, I-535 and Hwy 53

This project will provide direct access for overweight permitted loads.

Interchange traffic count:

  • Average annual daily traffic – 80,000
  • Heavy commercial average annual daily traffic – 5,320

Provides first- and last-mile connection to the Clure Public Terminal, an intermodal facility with highway, rail and waterway freight connections

Traffic impacts

Spring 2021

The Cross City Trail along Lower Michigan Street will close and be detoured from Spring 2021 to 2024. The city of Duluth is working on detour options.

Summer and early-fall 2021

  • I-35 will be reduced to a single lane in each direction between 27th Avenue West and Garfield Avenue.
  • The 27th Avenue West Bridge will be replaced, ramps will remain open, but the bridge will not be open to cross traffic. 
  • The ramps from southbound Hwy 53 to southbound I-35, northbound I-535 to southbound I-35 and northbound I-35 to northbound Hwy 53 will be closed.  
  • Lower Michigan Street will be closed.

Late-fall 2021 (Traffic will remain in this configuration until fall 2022)

  • Southbound I-35 traffic will be moved to Lower Michigan Street in two lanes between Garfield Avenue and 22nd Avenue West and northbound I-35 will be diverted to the existing southbound lanes of I-35.
  • Two lanes of traffic in each direction will be maintained.
  • In addition to the ramps listed above, the ramps from I-35 to I-535 in both directions and the ramp from southbound I-35 to northbound Hwy 53 will close.

Late-fall 2022

  • Both northbound and southbound I-35 traffic will be shifted to the new northbound I-35 lanes and two lanes in each direction will be maintained.
  • The ramps to I-535 will re-open.
  • Hwy 53 and ramps will close.  

Fall 2023

  • All roadways and ramps will open on the final roadway.

Early-summer 2024

  • There will be lane closures for finishing work on I-35.

Detour routes during construction

  • All closed ramps will have official detour routes posted.
  • The major detours will be Hwy 53 detoured to Hwy 194 (Central Entrance and Mesaba Avenue).
  • The I-535 ramps will be detoured to Hwy 2 (Bong Bridge).
  • The I-535 Blatnik Bridge will be accessible via Garfield Avenue during this time.