State OKs Highway 53 upgrades in 2019

(MN Dept. of Transportation)

There are plenty of highways in Minnesota. I don’t cover news about all of them. But I do cover the two big ones on the Iron Range: 53 and 169. They’re both technically north-south highways but 169 veers east northeast as it crosses the Mesabi.

Today the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced a $7.2 million upgrade to parts of Highway 53 between Cook and International Falls. Highway 53 is one of those international thoroughfares that can be choked with tourists and tractor-trailers at times. And for a long stretch in the North it only has two lanes.

The new project will add four passing zones and improve a dangerous intersection with Highway 1.

It’s a pretty exciting coup for those northern communities given how much money the state spent to reroute the same highway around mining land near Eveleth last year. The state’s tallest bridge now ushers you into Virginia.

The Range highways 169 and 53 remain political talking points as old as the oldest people alive. The youngest people alive will probably still be talking about them 80 years hence.


  1. Thanks for reporting this. Many residents, some I know, have been working on these Highway 53 projects for many years.

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