Highway 53 bridge opens this week

The new Highway 53 bridge as it appeared on a MNDot webcam Aug. 5, 2017. The bridge opens for traffic on Friday, Sept. 15.

After a short delay from an optimistic August opening, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will open the new Highway 53 bridge this Friday, Sept. 15.

This nearly quarter-billion dollar project reroutes Highways 53 and 135 on the east central Iron Range, creating the state’s new tallest bridge over the Rouchleau Pit outside Virginia, Minn. The bridge will also include a new route for the Mesabi Trail and Virginia city utilities.

From MnDOT:

VIRGINIA, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Highway 53 relocation project today announced that it will dedicate the project, and open to traffic at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Congressman Rick Nolan and other elected officials will be on hand for the dedication, which will take place underneath the bridge on the project.

“We have been looking forward to this day for several years,” said Project Director Pat Huston. “While the wet summer slowed us down a bit, we are still a month ahead of schedule.”

In the next week, the project will provide more detail regarding the dedication event. For more information, visit the project website at: www.mndot.gov/d1/projects/hwy53relocation. Viewers will also find access to the project’s web cam and other project information. For questions or concerns about the project, call the project hotline at 218-820-8532.

The results of an online vote to name the new bridge have yet to be announced, though voting closed Sept. 1.

The entire project was triggered by a claim from iron mining fee holders who want Cleveland-Cliffs to mine the existing Highway 53 corridor outside Eveleth. The highway was built in the 1960s without knowing for certain if taconite mining would reach that area. United Taconite is slated to mine the new territory, though other mines would someday have access if they don’t.

 

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