Duluth's Multimodal Transportation Center Project construction will come with challenges for city

By KBJR News 1

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 6:21 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - During next year's construction on Duluth's proposed Multimodal Transportation Center, Northlanders can expect downtown traffic direction changes, and temporary closures of portions of I–35.

Those challenges, say Duluth Transit Authority officials, are all part of the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to make this $27.5 million project a reality.

A DTA–hosted community breakfast Wednesday unveiled the latest progress report and schedule for Duluth's proposed Multimodal Transportation Center.

"Notices to people about the schedule are important because you have businesses that are in those facilities that will be affected by the construction," said DTA General Manager Dennis Jensen after the public forum.

Jensen says the center will help make Duluth a central transportation hub for the region, and will also clear up various traffic issues associated with the city's current public transportation design.

But Jensen acknowledges that construction on the multi–million dollar project will bring with it challenges for Duluth.

Among those challenges: temporarily shutting down the DECC skywalk system during construction, which will impact foot traffic for both DECC event–goers and workers.

"The DTA will be providing a shuttle service during the time that the skywalk is actually under construction," said Jensen.

Another challenge: meeting the regulations during construction work over the interstate, which means that portion of I–35 will, at times, be shut down, "hopefully in the evening, or during the early morning, when traffic is at a minimum," added Jensen.

The new center is estimated to have about 150 parking spaces upon completion.

Until then, residential parking along the affected avenues will also see temporary changes during construction.

"We're going to try to keep the avenues open. We'll have at least one lane open during all phases of construction," said Jensen. "But there will be inconveniences, there's no doubt about that."

According to Duluth Mayor Don Ness, good projects have been abandoned in the past because of narrow self–interests.

He's asking the community to embrace these challenges in the name of progress.

"It's a matter of whether or not we just see that as part of doing business, and part of getting projects done, or if we blow them out of proportion and say, 'oh, the sky is falling because there's complications,'" said Mayor Ness.

Construction is set to begin in April of 2014.

Jensen says the DTA is hoping to open the Multimodal Transportation Center in either late 2014, or early 2015.

Billy Wagness

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