In November 2019, MnDOT identified an approximate $100 million funding gap on the Twin Ports Interchange project. Much of that gap was due to unknown costs related to contaminated materials and utility work. Because of that gap, MnDOT announced the deferment of the Highway 53 Bridge and I-535/Garfield interchange portions of the project.
After more in-depth analysis, MnDOT has decided to defer the majority of the I-35 project.
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.
The project budget remains at $343 million, and MnDOT works to be good stewards of its resources. By deferring the majority of the project one year, this allows time to obtain a better understanding of the unknowns, like contaminated materials and will give MnDOT an opportunity to better quantify costs. MnDOT is confident this new timeline will benefit the overall project.
The Highway 53 and I-535/Garfield Avenue interchange portions of the project will still be deferred until funding becomes available.
About this project
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.
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
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.
- MnDOT to defer portions of Twin Ports Interchange project (Nov. 25, 2019)
- Railroad Street to close from Garfield Avenue to Fifth Avenue West in Duluth (Sept. 30, 2019)
Project update meetings
- Learn more about the public meetings for this project, including the time, date and place of the next meeting.
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