Dayton’s $6B transportation bill includes Highway 53 funds

(PHOTO: Doug Kerr, Flickr CC)

PHOTO: Doug Kerr, Flickr CC

This week Gov. Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota) released details of his enormous $6 billion transportation package, which uses gas taxes to fund and otherwise accelerate highway and bridge repairs around the state. More than two-thirds of the projects would be located in Greater Minnesota, with the rest in the densely packed metro counties.

The topic will be part of the dominant debate at the Minnesota legislature through the spring. You can read the list of projects here, see a map here, find out how Gov. Dayton wants to pay for it here, and the governor’s more general argument for his bill here.

The most notable Northern Minnesota project is the Highway 53 relocation, which will move the Iron Range’s biggest highway to accommodate mining by Cliffs’ United Taconite. This project, as proposed, would require the state’s highest bridge to be built, with a price tag of as much as $240 million. The state bill does not fund the whole project, as it’s widely believed that federal funds will be needed for the heavy lifting. Those dollars could be the trickiest to acquire.


  1. If the state is “for” the bridge, puts it in a bill, but can’t find enough money, can they look positive about the bridge, so to speak, but actually get out of building it?

  2. It’s very disappointing. Why does Dayton always come up short? Why wouldn’t he ask for $10 billion worth of projects totaling say 1,000 roads and bridges? Just think of all the shovel ready jobs he’d create..

    He did the same thing with the minimum wage proposal…asked for some meager amount when he could have ELIMINATED Minnesota poverty by asking for a $35 per hour minimum wage. I’m beginning to think the guy is in over his head…a buffoon.

  3. Dayton’s playing a good long game , hopefully triaging federal funds for key trunk or sensible light rail projects and not getting stuck subsidizing Cliff’s , whose CEO’s breakfast comments worked to preemptively contextualize costs associated with US labor unions within the competitive global headwinds faced by his firm – MDN quoted Goncalves lamenting/scapegoating how African laborers are displacing the Australian workforce , and how foreign government-subsidized steel was hurting Cliff’s bottom line. He also talked about “wanting to raise the share price” and the need for union membership to “be cordial” in upcoming contract negotiations .

    • There is a legal obligation to move the road, ’tis true .

      • Why can’t they just use a road, maybe one that already exists? There are roads that go around the pit. Are people seriously planning to build this bridge? That is so much money. How can the bridge be rationalized when there are almost no people to use the bridge. Traffic projections do not get much smaller.

  4. I felt it was necessary to view traffic projections. DOT has a map of the area with 2017 Annual Average Daily Traffic. I cannot believe this is actually being talked about as though it could happen.

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