Stunning video shows new Hwy 53 route

Aerial footage shows where the state's tallest bridge will span the Rochleau Pit in the $240 million Highway 53 relocation project on Northern Minnesota's Iron Range. (PHOTO: Screen shot from drone footage by Terry Hartikka)

Aerial footage shows the stunning view where the state’s tallest bridge will span the Rochleau Pit for the $240 million Highway 53 relocation project between Eveleth and Virginia on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. (PHOTO: Screen shot from drone footage by Terry Hartikka)

If completed as planned, the Highway 53 relocation project on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range will be the region’s biggest transportation project for a generation or more. We’ve discussed the project’s pros and cons, its route and how it will affect communities here at MinnesotaBrown, but do we really understand what it will look like?

Aerial photographer Terry Hartikka recently spoke to Hometown Focus about his photography drone, which he recently used to demonstrate the proposed new route of State Highway 53. It clearly shows how the road will cut across portions of Highway 135, old mining access roads and dumps to cross the Rochleau Pit in a stunning new entrance to Virginia, Minnesota:

Hartikka shares a 14-minute video showing the new Highway 53 route as it would look heading north and then back heading south. You only need a little bit of it to get the idea, especially if you skip around, but Hartikka’s video is well worth seeing:


  1. joe musich says

    The music was remindful of something used background in an old western. My mind lept to the graphic novel and movi er “Snowpiercer!” A circuitous deception.

  2. How MUCH of the beauty of that pit are you going to destroy by building a bridge/road over it??? I grew up in Cherry, and spent most of my high school years running around Virginia and those pits… I feel like your going to destroy then, and that’s really sad… Even tho I now live 3 hours south this still concerns me!!!

  3. Does not seem appear to be a prudent use of taxpayer funds.

  4. I think that bridge is going over a money pit… It looks unstable on the edges and way too long and deep to attempt to build a decent bridge in the period of less than 2 years. Very poor use of taxpayer funds and my guess is it will end up costing WAY WAY more than they could possibly anticipate.

  5. I agree. What a waste of taxpayers funds. HOW do they think this road is going to benefit us??? The mines aren’t even doing well right now. It would be much better to spend the alloted monies to fix the horrible County roads we have up here. Who is truly benefitting from the construction of the bridge? Certainly NOT the people who live up here.

  6. It`s a waste of money and does`nt seem to be a benefit to us at all! Why do they have to change the route any way? what`s the point,we could use the funds to improve the area in many different ways. The only ones to get anything from it are the money hungry fools who started this insane project!

  7. It was basically move the road or close it & closing it is really of no benefit to anyone & the state knew that they were going to have to move the road when they built it on current location in the 60s. It is better use of our taxes then it all constantly going to work on freeways in the Twin cities area. The taxes for road work comes from the car tab fees we pay every year & how much has been used on iron range area? If they didn’t have to do this project I highly doubt that they would be spending the money on other roads in the area!

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