Highway 169 expansion makes road project list

Iron Range newsBig news on the western Mesabi: The 40-year dream of a “cross-Range expressway” is every-so-slightly closer to reality.

From a Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) press release:

ST. PAUL, MN – Today, Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced ten highway construction projects slated to receive funding through the state’s new $300 million Corridors of Commerce program.

Several projects in northeastern Minnesota were selected out of over 400 proposals from throughout the state. They include expanding approximately 1.6 miles of Highway 169 from two to four lanes near Bovey and adding three sections of passing lanes on Highway 2 between Cass Lake and Deer River.

The four-lane Highway 169 expansion will run from Bovey, through Taconite, past the Scenic Highway 7 turnoff to the edge of Marble.

Highway 169 has been a dicey issue on the western Mesabi for two generations. The highway was left as two lanes between Pengilly and Grand Rapids for decades after the highway was built up in the 1960s.

Gradually, the state and federal government have found ways to finish sections of the road, but a combination of mining concerns and cost have prevented the final stretch from being completed. Though this stretch is just 1.7 miles, it is a key section of highway and will alleviate a dangerous turn lane at the Scenic Highway.

“These projects will improve commerce and business between all communities in our region,” said State Representative Tom Anzelc (DFL – Balsam Township). “We’ve been talking about expanding this segment of Highway 169 for thirty years now because our people understand the positive impact it will have on our economy. It will speed up the flow of logging and mining trucks, improve safety, and help Grand Rapids prosper as a regional retail center.”

Anzelc added that the Highway 169 expansion has always been one of the top issues he highlights when he has an opportunity to speak with Governor Dayton.

“I owe a major thank you to MnDOT and Governor Dayton,” said Anzelc. “I’m very pleased these projects will move forward. We have more work to do to address our region’s transportation needs, but this is important progress we can all be proud of. I will continue to work with members of our communities to advocate for improvements to our roads in northeastern Minnesota.”

DISCLOSURE: Rep. Anzelc is a friend and I have run his legislative campaigns.

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