Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Congressional Transportation Status Report

Hwy 53, Mining Relocation (Virginia)

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About the project

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The proposed project abandons Hwy 53 in the expansion area of the United Taconite mine expansion and reconstructs it in a new location. Although the affected area is approximately one-mile in length, relocation alternatives may be longer.

Hwy 53 is a major transportation corridor in the region and serves as a critical link between the cities of Virginia and Eveleth.

MnDOT was notified in 2010 that highway easement rights granted under a 1960 agreement with US Steel were being terminated to allow for mining on highway right of way. To compensate for the loss of easement rights, MnDOT is studying various alternatives, including constructing a new highway site or maintaining the roadway in its current location and compensating the landowner for the resources adjacent to the highway.

Project website: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d1/projects/hwy53relocation/

Project benefits

  • The project would address the termination of the highway easement rights by providing a roadway with similar safety and capacity benefits as the current Hwy 53.
  • Relocating the highway would provide access to iron mineral deposits and support area mining activities.

Risks and key issues

  • Unknown funding sources/lack of funding
  • Community impacts and municipal approval of new route
  • Effect of new route on mining operations
  • Possibility of future highway relocation
  • Short, aggressive timeline for relocating the highway
  • Mining industry economic volatility