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Interstate 35 border connections

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Chrysler375Freeway:
Okay, many people say that I-35 isn't a true border-to-border route because it ends in Duluth on its north end and ends a mere 3000 feet (914 meters) north of the Mexican border at an intersection on its south end that isn't grade-separated. Would using a short cut-cover tunnel to connect I-35 to the bridge in Laredo make sense? I know the lack of a Mexico border connection and connecting I-35 to Mexico is a topic for the Mid-South regional board, but I-35 falls short of connecting to either border. Would extending I-35 to Canada (International Falls) along Hwys. 33 and 53 via way of towns such as Cloquet and Virginia be feasible and/or make better sense than using Hwy. 61 northward to the border, albeit requiring a new border crossing because the alignment would be east of the downtown International Falls area due to opposition that would arise from routing I-35 through the heart of town?

SkyPesos:
I don't see any sizable Canadian cities north of International Falls that's worth an extension via US 53. There's Thunder Bay via US 61, though from what I head, traffic counts don't justify an I-35 extension to the direction of Thunder Bay either.

Chrysler375Freeway:

--- Quote from: SkyPesos on October 17, 2021, 11:34:28 PM ---I don't see any sizable Canadian cities north of International Falls that's worth an extension via US 53. There's Thunder Bay via US 61, though from what I head, traffic counts don't justify an I-35 extension to the direction of Thunder Bay either.

--- End quote ---
Well, I-75 connects to Canada in Sault Ste. Marie, but outside of there, there’s nowhere else sizable, unless you travel south to any of the important Ontario cities, most or all of which are in southern Ontario.

JREwing78:
Short answer: No.

Thunder Bay (107,000 residents) is massive in comparison to International Falls (7100 residents) and Fort Frances (7700 residents)   The traffic north of Virginia pales in comparison to North Shore traffic, or to the traffic south of Virginia. US-53 is very much a road to nowhere once the 4-lane peters out. The border crossing itself is a very low volume affair, effectively a driveway through a paper mill with rail traffic taking precedence. If the traffic counts were much higher than 200-300 cars a day (in a normal year), I'd be amazed.

With only about 1,300 vehicles (in a normal year) crossing at Grand Portage, international traffic to/from Thunder Bay hardly demands any kind of 4-lane highway. There's also not a large amount of cross border truck traffic, nor the significant industry that would generate that traffic. Thunder Bay's known far more as a water and rail port connection than a truck transportation hub.

SM-G991U

froggie:
If, and this is a very huge IF, there were ever a desire plus the political will and the funding for a limited-access connection across the border at International Falls, it would be easier to go west of town entirely, starting with passing southwest of the airport, continuing in a northwestward direction, and crossing the river somewhere 2-3 miles west of downtown.  Though development impact wouldn't be zero, it would be less than with a crossing east of downtown as the OP suggests.  A west-side alignment would also make it easier to connect to ON 11 and in the direction towards ON 71.

Realistically speaking (since this is not the Fictional Highways subfolder), there is zero funding, zero political will, and zero traffic demand for an I-35 extension to the Canadian border.  Neither US 53 nor MN 61 towards the border see traffic volumes that justify even 4 lanes, let alone a controlled-access facility.  US 53 also gets extremely rural but with a need to maintain local access, while following MN 61 brings one through the most challenging topography in the state (not to mention the winter storms off Lake Superior).

(edited to add)


--- Quote from: JREwing78 ---Thunder Bay (107,000 residents) is massive in comparison to International Falls (7100 residents) and Fort Frances (7700 residents)   The traffic north of Virginia pales in comparison to North Shore traffic, or to the traffic south of Virginia.
--- End quote ---

While 53's traffic does peter out the further north of Virginia one goes, 61's traffic peters out even more once past Grand Marais.  There's more Duluth-Int'l Falls traffic than there is Duluth-Thunder Bay, in no small part because of the border crossing.

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