MnDOT names costs of Highway 53 reroute options

Iron Range newsWDIO reports on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s cost estimates for rerouting State Highway 53 on the eastern Mesabi Iron Range.

From the WDIO story:

  • For the M1 route, which would take the highway through the current United Taconite mine pit, the costs are estimated to be between $248 and $319 million dollars.

  • For the E1 route, which would take the road into the Rouchleau pit in Virginia, and would require dewatering that pit, the estimate is much lower, $81-$117 million dollars.

  • And for the E2 route, which is also through the Rouchleau pit, but would mean a major bridge over the water, the money is $207-$254 million.

    MnDOT has $90 million allocated for the project, according to project manager Roberta Dwyer. Any overrun, at this point, would mean cuts to other projects across the state.

The state is obligated to reroute Highway 53 due to a 1960s era agreement with Cliffs Natural Resources, or rather their predecessors, to move the highway when mining reached the road. A very unpopular route that would have routed Highway 53 around Eveleth, avoiding mining activity entirely, was ruled out earlier this year. So the state and residents are left with three very expensive options. The locals seem to favor the new bridge over the Rouchleau, but as you can see, that’s a spendy choice.

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