Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 53 Relocation

Between Eveleth and Virginia

Project updates

Noise wall open house held

John Crawford presents at the Noise Wall Open House.

John Crawford presents at the Noise Wall Open House.

We are currently conducting a Noise Wall Study in two project areas; first, in the Midway area and second; at 2nd Avenue.

An open house was held for affected residents and business owners March 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Laurentian Room in Virginia. Approximately 15 people attended.

MnDOT selects two contractors for Hwy 53 relocation 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. Initially, Kiewit will provide expertise into the project design. Once designed, Kiewit will submit a bid to build the 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.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement Open House/Public Hearing

MnDOT District 1 Engineer, Duane Hill, answers questions for people at the Open House/Public Meeting.

MnDOT District 1 Engineer, Duane Hill, answers questions for people at the Open House/Public Meeting. Photo: Beth Petrowske, MnDOT District 1.

About 65 people attended an Open House/Public Hearing for the Hwy 53 Relocation Project January 22. Attendees listened to a presentation that summarized the findings from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and copies of the complete document were available for review. Display boards with project information lined the walls and large layouts showing the route alternatives were also posted. Topic specialists answered questions about many details of the project and the Construction Manager General Contractor process. A court reporter transcribed verbal comments and people also had the opportunity to submit written comments. The official comment period for the Draft EIS closed February 5, 2015. The Draft EIS can be viewed at:

Pat Huston, Hwy 53 Project Manager, taked with many people about the project throughout the evening.
Pat Huston, Hwy 53 Project Manager, talked with many people about the project throughout the evening. Photo: Beth Petrowske, MnDOT District 1.
  • MnDOT’s website: www.mndot.gov/d1/projects/hwy53relocation
  • Eveleth Public Library, 614 Pierce Street, Eveleth, MN
  • Gilbert Public Library, 17 N. Broadway, Gilbert, MN
  • Mountain Iron Public Library, 5742 Mountain Avenue, Mt. Iron, MN
  • Virginia Public Library, 215 5th Avenue S, Virginia, MN
  • Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN
  • MnDOT – District 1 Duluth Office, 1123 Mesaba Avenue, Duluth, MN
  • Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN

MnDOT recommends preferred alternative for Hwy 53 relocation

MnDot Commissioner Charles Zelle helped announce MnDOT's recommendation at a public meeting in Virginia. Zelle emphasized that the public is invited to offer comments and concerns now and during the public comment period during the environmental process.
MnDOT Commissioner Charles Zelle helped announce MnDOT's recommendation for the rerouting of Hwy 53 at a public meeting in Virginia. Zelle emphasized that the public is invited to offer comments and concerns now and during the public comment period during the environmental process.
Pat Huston, MnDOT Hwy 53 Relocation Project director, is interviewed by a KARE 11 - TV reporter who traveled to Virginia to cover the story. The announcement was covered heavily by reporters from several media outlets.
Pat Huston, MnDOT Hwy 53 Relocation Project director, is interviewed by a KARE 11 - TV reporter who traveled to Virginia from the Twin Cities to cover the story. The announcement was covered heavily by reporters from several regional media outlets.

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.

After lengthy study of several other alternatives, E-2 rated highest in constructablity and cost. Other alternatives had more difficult technical challenges or passed over land that could potentially be mined. The E-2 alternative offers the most workable challenges and has the lowest cost of all the alternatives.

Coffee & Conversation project update 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. The next meeting will be:

Thursday, May 7, 2015
10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
MnDOT Virginia Office, 101 Hoover Road, Virginia

About this project

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

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

Background

  • 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. The 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.

Risks

  • Unknown funding sources/lack of funding
  • 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