Highway 33 construction intensifies
With the northbound Highway 33 lanes closed on Wednesday and all traffic using the two southbound lanes, travel down Cloquet’s main thoroughfare got even more challenging.*
Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Highway 33 Project Supervisor Jim Sorenson said the best thing local drivers can do is “take the back way” to access businesses along Highway 33.
“We want people to be patient,” Sorenson said. “It will take a few days for people to realize how it works. And I expect Saturdays and Sundays will be pretty tough with all the boats and campers.”
He chuckled, and told how he had been doing paperwork near the now-closed northbound ramp to Interstate 35 Wednesday morning and had watched a steady line of cars turn around when they reached the closed-off highway ramp.
“Nobody apparently believes the signs,” he said, adding that the ramp closure had been posted since last week.
Sorenson said Tuesday’s rain put the construction a little behind schedule, maybe a day behind.
Following is the official list of the current traffic restrictions on and around Highway 33 in Cloquet:
• Motorists are restricted to a single lane in each direction between I-35 and the Doddridge Avenue/Big Lake Road
• The ramp to northbound I-35 from Highway 33 is closed. Southbound Highway 33 traffic wishing to go north on I-35 is being detoured to the Scanlon ramp via Cloquet Avenue.
• The southbound I-35 ramp to northbound Highway 33 (Exit 237) is closed. Traffic will be detoured using Exit 239 to County Road 45 to Cloquet Avenue and back to Highway 33.
• The frontage road on the south end of the project will close to Highway 33 access. Access will be open to southbound I-35 only so people will have to get back into town using Moorhead Road and 14th Street.
• Motorists should expect delays and single lane traffic on this project until it is completed in October.
Sorenson said the northbound lanes are expected to be completely reconstructed by mid-August, when those lanes will reopen to traffic and the southbound lanes will be closed for construction.
Businesses are all open and accessible during this construction project. Sorenson and City Engineer Jim Prusak are holding weekly construction update meetings for business owners and residents at 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Cloquet City Hall on the corner of Cloquet Avenue and 14th Street.
Sorenson said he’s only had a few business owners at three weekly meetings so far and has heard little feedback in the first month of construction.
“I expect we’ll have more action next week,” he said. “This really is a big change now.”
Alternate routes for west side businesses include: Carlton Avenue and Armory Drive. Alternate routes for east side businesses include: Washington Avenue and Stanley Avenue.
This project will completely replace the pavement on Highway 33 from Interstate 35 to the Big Lake Road Intersection and will provide many safety and accessibility improvements.
For more information, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/d1/projects/hwy33cloquet.
*On Thursday morning, although traffic was down to one lane on the southbound side, there were cars traveling in the northbound lanes. It just goes to show you that things can and will change, sometimes on a day to day basis.