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MN DOT on HWY 53 Relocation: We May Need More Time


Duluth, MN (KDAL) - Mn DOT say they may need more time to come up with a plan to relocate a segment of Highway 53 in the Iron Range. 

As part of an easement the D-O-T obtained in 1960, they agreed to move the four-lane highway in the event that the mining companies exercised their option.  That’s what happened in 2010 when United Taconite and R-G-G-S Land and Minerals pulled the trigger on the three-year deadline to move 53 between Highway 135 and 2nd Avenue in Virginia.  However, they gave Mn DOT until 2017 to make the relocation happen. 

District One engineer Duane Hill says, “We have been working very hard to develop the project to get it done by 2017. However we have found that the best route options have some of the most difficult geologic conditions we’ve ever encountered.”

Hill says air quality, extremely hard rock and possible mineable minerals have complicated matters.  Before they can proceed with pinning down a route, he says they need to investigate the possible effects of the relocation.  Another round of tests are expected this summer.  Once they have those results, Hill says they’ll be able to map a route and devise a schedule.  Meanwhile, Mn DOT says they’re working with the mining companies. 

Hill adds that they, “…greatly appreciate the schedule concerns the land owner and mining companies have.”

Thursday morning at 10:00 Mn DOT will hold a public meeting at their Virginia office.  Officials will pass along updates on the project and will be available for questions.

To see the proposed routes and scope of the project, click on the link below...