Prep work underway for ‘can of worms’ interchange project in Duluth, Minnesota

The estimated $205 million reconstruction of the “can of worms” section of Interstate 35 through Duluth isn’t scheduled to begin until 2019. But that doesn’t mean work isn’t already happening.

“We’re the first part of any project right here,” said Dylan Buhl as he approached a rugged box truck reminiscent of a woolly mammoth. The rig was parked near the railyard off Michigan Street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth.

A specialist with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Buhl works out of the Office of Materials and Road Research based in Maplewood. He’s been in Duluth most weekdays since November, using the cone penetration testing rig to probe the earth underneath the interchange. The reconstruction plan is to bring much of the elevated roadway to the ground — something that wasn’t possible in the 1960s when the interchange was constructed.