The Highway 53 relocation represents one of the largest highway projects that the State of Minnesota has ever undertook. The move is necessary to allow for mining expansion. Today, the Minnesota Department of Transportation issued a statement suggesting that they may not hit the 2017 target date for relocation.

Here is the statement from MNDOT:

The Hwy 53 relocation project is one of the most technically challenging in the nation. Geotechnical issues (unknown sub soils, extremely hard rock, and mine waste) in particular pose major challenges to construction of a bridge or a high fill. These issues affect constructability, structure type, cost and schedule. A bridge foundations test contract will be underway this summer to determine what type of bridge foundations can be installed in this challenging environment in the event a bridge alternative is selected.

MnDOT is moving full speed ahead to solve the many technical engineering challenges with such things as a test bridge foundations contract, preliminary bridge designs, landowner negotiations and the environmental review process. As these issues are resolved and the engineering evolves, the project schedule will further developed and refined to show a realistic project completion date. It is highly unlikely that the road will be relocated by May 5, 2017. MnDOT will continue to provide timely project status updates as the project progresses.


The project cost has increased substantially due to these technical challenges and information provided by further preliminary engineering. Current costs estimates with contingencies for the "build" alternatives being considered range from $240-$460 million. $90 million is currently allocated and the balance of the required funding will be sought from State and federal sources including grants and special programs.


Monthly Coffee and Conversation updates are held the first Thursday of each month at the MnDOT Office in Virginia located at 101 Hoover Road in Virginia. The next updates are July 3 and August 7.


Thank you for your interest in the Hwy 53 relocation project. Please continue to check the project website for updates and visualizations of the proposed build routes.

Be assured that MnDOT will continue to proceed with the development and construction of this project in an accelerated fashion.