MnDOT Cuts West Route Option for Highway 53 Relocation Project

By KBJR News 1

MnDOT Cuts West Route Option for Highway 53 Relocation Project

August 26, 2013 Updated Aug 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM CST

Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Minnesota Department of Transportation has narrowed the options for the relocation of Highway 53 in St. Louis County.

Transportation officials announced that they will not include the west route alternative in an upcoming environmental decision regarding the Highway 53 re-route near Virginia.

“Our examination of the alternative routes and preliminary engineering has led us to this point,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “The west route, though viable, will likely have the greatest community, environmental and economic impacts. We know enough, now, to be able put it on the shelf and put more work into the other alternatives.”

The westerly plan would have run from the south junction of Highway 37 to the west, then north along County Road 7. It would rejoin Highway 53 on the west side of Virginia.

The amended scoping decision, which is expected to be released on August 30th, will now include two no-build options, a buyout and a road closure, as well as routes identified as M-1, E-2 and E-1A. Results from this study will be carried into the draft environmental impact statement, which should be complete by 2014. Project officials hope to release the final environmental impact statement in early 2015.

Highway 53 needs to be relocated by May 2017. Cliffs Natural Resources, a local mining operation, has rights to minerals under the road because of a 1960 easement agreement and anticipates it will need access to those resources soon.

For more information on the relocation project, you can log onto the MnDOT Highway 53 Project website.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns
kburns@kbjr.com