Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 53 Relocation

Between Eveleth and Virginia

Project updates

Final Environmental Impact Statement

Hwy 53 preferred alternative
Preferred alternative E-2 route for Hwy 53 relocation.

MnDOT has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with state requirements for the US Highway 53 Virginia to Eveleth project. The Final EIS describes the transportation and environmental impacts of the preferred alternative: Alternative E-2 (with the Interchange Option and Straight Option). View Final EIS.

Contractors selected for project

Kiewit Infrastructure Company, based in Englewood, Colo., has been named the Construction Manager/General Contractor for the project, a role that allows for an integrated and collaborative approach to planning, designing and constructing a project. MnDOT also selected Parsons, a California-based engineering, construction, technical and management services firm, to design the new bridge for the project. In addition, Parsons will deliver the roadway, drainage, geotechnical, and structural health monitoring designs for the project. See news release.

Preferred alternative for Hwy 53 relocation

MnDOT is recommending the E-2 route as the preferred alternative for the Hwy 53 Relocation project. This alternative is the northernmost route with a 1,100-foot bridge across the Rouchleau Pit. The project cost is estimated at $220 million. More about E-2 route.

Coffee & Conversation meetings

Join us at our Coffee & Conversation meetings, designed to provide brief updates on the project and to allow time for questions and answers about the project. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month.

About this project

I-494 Ramp Closures
Easement rights for parts of
Hwy 53 in St. Louis County
have been terminated.

This is a proposed project to abandon Hwy 53 in the area of the United Taconite mine expansion and reconstruct in a new location.


  • Hwy 53 between Duluth and International Falls is a major transportation corridor serving northeastern Minnesota.
  • Since 1960, portions of Hwy 53 in St. Louis County were located on land owned by mining companies.┬áThe highway is located on these lands through easement rights.
  • The current mining companies, United Taconite and RGGS Land and Minerals, now need access to the land the highway is located on to continue their mining operations.
  • In accordance with the 1960 agreement provisions, United Taconite and RGGS Land and Minerals have given MnDOT notice that they will be terminating the easement rights for the portion of Hwy 53 that is located between approximately Hwy 135 and 2nd Avenue in Virginia.
  • The 1960 agreement required the highway to be moved within three years of receiving the termination notice but United Taconite and RGGS Land and Minerals have stated they would allow up to seven years for the move to occur.
  • MnDOT is required to relocate the highway outside of the planned mining area by spring 2017 so that United Taconite can begin mining under the current roadway.


  • Community impacts and social acceptance of new route
  • Impact of new route on mining operations
  • Possibility that the highway will need to be relocated again in the future
  • Short, aggressive time line for relocating the highway
  • Volatility of mining industry
  • Agency review and permitting