Heading to the North Shore of Lake Superior this summer? Plan ahead, because it's going to take longer. Construction is scheduled for several stretches of Interstate 35 and Hwy. 61 north of the Twin Cities.
From mid-July through late fall, travelers will encounter the first meaningful delay along I-35 near Moose Lake, about 40 miles south of Duluth. Northbound lanes will be closed for various road repairs, and traffic will be diverted onto one of the southbound lanes for 8.5 miles.
Just south of downtown Duluth, various sections of I-35 starting about Boundary Avenue will be under construction from May through November as part of a three-year project that will include road reconstruction and replacement of some bridges.
From June 21 to Aug. 27, north of downtown Duluth there will be a half-mile detour that will reroute traffic one block from London Road/Hwy. 61 to Superior Street near the Lester River Bridge. Significant delays there aren't expected.
Farther north along the shore of Lake Superior, travelers will encounter crews building eight turn lanes from Duluth to Two Harbors starting in early May, but significant delays aren't expected.
About the same time, there could be longer delays along 3.5 miles of Hwy. 61 just before Split Rock Lighthouse State Park when work begins on a $13 million, two-year project. Expect delays of 10 to 15 minutes, depending on when you travel.
Those driving during peak travel times, usually Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, are likely to experience the longest delays, said Todd Campbell, Minnesota Department of Transportation Hwy. 61 and corridor project manager.
It's not all bad news: Sometime in late June or early July the Grand Portage Visitor Center, a venture of MnDOT and the Department of Natural Resources, will open northeast of Grand Marais at the U.S.-Canada border. Campbell said the center will provide services for travelers, including rest rooms and vending machines, and there will also be an interpretive center and new headquarters for Grand Portage State Park. Improved trails will provide better access to the high falls of the Pigeon River and other sites, and there will also be a new picnic area. The facility was built on land provided by the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe.
For the latest on road projects and traffic conditions, go to www.mndot.com.
Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376