Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 53 Relocation

Between Eveleth and Virginia

Project update

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Tentative Date Set

Draft Environmental Impact Statement Public Hearing

A tentative date of Thursday, January 22, 2015 has been set for the DEIS Public Hearing for the Hwy 53 Relocation Project. Please check back at this site for date confirmation and more information including hearing time and location.

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MnDOT recommends preferred alternative for Highway 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.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation 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.

The public is invited to offer their comments and concerns to project staff now and during the public comment period for the environmental work.

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.

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, February 5, 2015
10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
MnDOT Virginia Office, 101 Hoover Road, Virginia

Future meetings

Thursday, March 5, 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.

  • Project layouts posted on the Alternatives/Maps page
  • KARE TV Story - Mine expansion to claim vital Iron Range hwy (Nov. 6, 2013)

    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.┬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.

    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