’Tis the season for road constructionThe ramp leading from northbound I-35 to Highway 33 (exit No. 237) could be closed from Monday, May 9, until June 17, while Redstone Construction Company removes and replaces the bridge deck.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Starting Monday, May 9, drivers who want to exit Interstate 35 at Highway 33 in Cloquet will have to drive another mile or so north, exit and take southbound I-35 to get there.
It’s not the most direct route, but it beats detouring folks through Carlton.
The ramp leading from northbound I-35 to Highway 33 (exit No. 237) could be closed until June 17, while Redstone Construction Company removes and replaces the bridge deck as part of a $1.4 million transportation investment contract, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
“It’s possible they may finish before June 17,” said Patrick Huston, MnDOT resident construction engineer. “We put a little incentive in the contract because there is an awful lot of traffic there.”
Project supervisor and MnDOT Senior Engineering Specialist James Sorenson said while the ramp is closed, a well-marked detour route will take northbound I-35 traffic destined for Highway 33 to the Highway 45 exit ramp (Exit No. 239) from northbound I-35. From there, traffic will be rerouted directly onto the Highway 45 on-ramp to southbound I-35, where traffic can easily exit from I-35 southbound at the Highway 33 exit ramp.
Businesses along the Highway 33 corridor should not be affected much by the construction, because the detour brings travelers back to the highway.
Huston said the project could also cause traffic congestion on I-35 for a time because the intersection is not a more typical “diamond interchange.” Instead the exit ramp crosses over the top of the interstate.
“During the removal operation, you don’t want to drop concrete onto the road below,” Huston said, “so we will close off lanes when they’re working overhead.”
By comparison, he said, at Banning Junction this week, state officials simply closed the interstate for 48 hours – routing travelers up and over the ramps at the interchange and back onto the highway – while they removed the bridge deck. It will take longer to do in Cloquet because of the “unique” nature of the ramp.
MnDOT officials don’t anticipate much confusion with the project.
“Please know that this very short closure of the northbound I-35 exit ramp to Highway 33 for renovation will be convenient for travelers destined for Highway 33 since the well signed detour route is very simple, easy and understandable for drivers,” said MnDOT spokesman John Bray.