MNDOT drops most dramatic Range highway reroute

Minnesota transportation officials are scrapping the most controversial of the potential new routes for one of the Iron Range’s most important highways. The plan would have sent traffic from Duluth along the west side of Eveleth into Virginia and points north. WDIO has the story and corresponding graphic.

The highway has to be rerouted to accommodate mining activity by Cliffs Natural Resources at its United Taconite plant in Eveleth. A dusty old provision that mandates this be done at state expense was invoked last year.

The remaining options are shorter and involve either elaborate bridgework through mining areas or a Virginia bypass to the east.

Business owners cried foul over the western route because it would have completely abandoned the longtime south entrance into Virginia, including the majestic view of this hardscrabble Range mining town as you descend from the Midway hill. An entire commercial district would have been devalued.

Surely Iron Junction and Leonidas are disappointed, however, as their chance to dominate a new Iron Range century has been foiled by bureaucrats.

This is going to be a sleek highway but as we’ve seen on the Western Mesabi with the rerouting of Highway 169 these roads are built to get people past the towns, not into them.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.