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

October 2020 to early-spring 2021

  • The 27th Avenue West bridge replacement will commence, ramps will remain open, but the bridge will not be open to cross traffic.
  • Short term, single lane closures on I-35 for construction of median crossovers to prepare for spring 2021 traffic shifts.

Spring 2021

  • The 27th Avenue West bridge will be under construction. Ramps will remain open, but the bridge will not be open to cross traffic.

Ramps to be closed for demolition

  • Ramp from southbound Hwy 53 to southbound I-35
  • Ramp from northbound I-35 to northbound Hwy 53
  • Ramp from northbound I-535 to southbound I-35
  • Piedmont Ave
  • First Street (21st Street West to 22nd Street West), and 21st Street West (Superior Street alley to 1st Street) will be closed for utility construction.
  • Temporary lane closures at intersection of Superior Street and Michigan Street for intersection re-channelization.
  • 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.

See maps showing the traffic staging.

Late spring, 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 reopen after completion. Short term ramp closures will be required for reconstruction of the ramps.
  • 19th Avenue West, between Michigan and Lower Michigan will be closed for utility construction.
  • Lower Michigan Street will be closed for utility and roadway construction

Streets to be closed for utility and roadway construction

(not all closed at the same time)

  • 22nd Avenue West, between Michigan Street and 1st Street
  • Superior Street and Michigan Street, 100 feet each way of 22nd Avenue West

Note: Check back periodically for more detailed information on specific street closures and durations from May 2021 until late fall 2021.

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.

Ramps to be closed for demolition

  • Ramp from northbound I-35 to southbound I-535
  • Ramp from northbound I-535 to northbound Hwy 53
  • Ramp from northbound I-535 to northbound I-35
  • Ramp from southbound Hwy 53 northbound I-35
  • Ramp from southbound Hwy 53 to southbound I-535
  • Ramp from southbound I-35 to southbound I-535
  • Ramp from southbound I-35 to northbound Hwy 53

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 connecting I-35 to I-535 will re-open.
  • Hwy 53 and ramps to/from 21st Avenue West 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.

October 2020 to early-spring 2021