Iron Range readies for state’s tallest bridge

The new Highway 53 bridge connects communities of the eastern Mesabi Iron Range. (PHOTO: Bridge Daze)

I’ve been covering the progress of the massive rerouting of Highways 53 and 135 on the east-central Mesabi Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. Though I’ve questioned the routing and expense of this quarter-billion dollar project, the massive 1,100-foot high bridge on Highway 53 now nears completion. And no matter your opinion, it’s a marvel.

Officials expect to open the bridge for vehicle, bike, and pedestrian traffic in mid-August.

Today, the Iron Range Tourism Bureau announced Bridge Daze, a festival celebrating the bridge’s opening, and a contest to name the bridge.

Angie Riebe of the the Mesabi Daily News reported on the contest today:

[Iron Range Tourism Bureau Director Beth] Pierce said she announced the contest on social media June 13, and there were 130 entries within an hour and a half; 400 by the end of the day.

Anyone can enter by visiting Silly names are allowed, but IRTD asks to “keep things positive.” The contest will run through July 15.

The top five entries will be chosen by a community group, and then the public will have the chance to vote. If there are multiple submissions of the same name that becomes a top contender, the first one entered will be chosen.

Pierce said there currently about 800 submissions.

The Iron Range Tourism Bureau will select the top five entries, advancing them to a public vote. The winning name will enter the bill to officially name the bridge during the next legislative session.

This is a tremendous opportunity for the Iron Range to make a statement about its future, not just its past. The bridge combines transportation function with tourism appeal. A baby born today will drive across this bridge as an old man or woman. A new world will replace the one we know.

What would you name the bridge? Get on it.

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