The E-2 Route appears to be the winner - as officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation made their announcement of which proposed roadway they would support for the Highway 53 Relocation Project.

This alternative is the northernmost route with a 1,100-foot bridge across the Rouchleau Pit. The total project cost is estimated at approximately $220 million.

“This is MNDOT’s best thinking, and we want to hear from the public,” said MNDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “From an engineering and cost point-of-view, this route stands out. We expect that the environmental process taking place now will support it. However, we want to make sure we haven’t missed anything, and encourage comment on the recommendation.”

MNDOT has been developing the relocation project for about four years. The roadway move is necessary because of an agreement with Cliffs Natural Resources, which plan to mine iron ore underneath the roadway. MNDOT has until 2017 to vacate the road.

“This is an important step in the project development process,” said Patrick Huston, project director. “It allows us to move forward in selecting a design firm and a contractor to provide expertise into the design. That said, we want to make sure that we hear any lingering concerns.”

Other alternatives the state considered had more difficult technical challenges or were over land that could potentially be mined. The E-2 alternative offered the most workable challenges and had the lowest cost of all the alternatives, according to MnDOT officials.

“We understand this has been a long and emotional process for the community, and we appreciate the public’s patience,” Zelle said. “Because of the project’s complexity, however, we needed the time to make sure we made the right decision now to achieve the most efficient and effective outcome.”

 

For more information, visit the project website by clicking here.