Iron Range Highway Relocation Project Moves Forward

Highway 53 Relocation Project Clears Final Permiting

The Federal Highway Administration has cleared the Highway 53 relocation project from Virginia to Eveleth for final permitting and construction, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said Friday.

The FHWA approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement and signed the Record of Decision for the project which allows the project to move forward.

“This is an important step in the process of building this project,” said Duane Hill, MnDOT’s District 1 engineer.

Hill said MnDOT worked diligently with numerous agencies, cities, interest groups, consultants and contractors to evaluate alternatives, address constructability challenges and overcome funding hurdles for relocating the project.

To complete the EIS, MnDOT evaluated the environmental and social impacts of alternatives and completed a risk assessment to select a preferred alternative.

Initial findings were reported in a Draft EIS published in the Federal Register in December 2014.

Five government agencies and 12 members of the public commented on the Draft EIS during its 45-day review period. These comments were considered in the development of the Final EIS.

The Final EIS describes the effects of constructing the preferred alternative (Alternative E-2 with the Interchange Option and Straight Option) and identifies what MnDOT will do to mitigate these impacts.

The ROD was approved Sept. 10, 2015, completing the federal environmental review process.

It is expected to be published in the Sept. 25, 2015 Federal Register.

MnDOT also concluded the state environmental process with an Adequacy Determination on Sept. 10, 2015.

Completing the EIS allows MnDOT to obtain final permits. Construction should start before the end of the year and completion is slated for fall 2017.

The Final EIS and ROD can be viewed at MnDOT’s project website: and at the MnDOT District 1 Office, 1123 Mesaba Avenue, Duluth.

Hard copies will be available at:
• Eveleth Public Library, 614 Pierce Street, Eveleth
• Gilbert Public Library, 17 N Broadway, Gilbert
• Mountain Iron Public Library, 5742 Mountain Avenue, Mt. Iron
• Virginia Public Library, 215 5th Avenue S, Virginia
• Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior Street, Duluth
• MnDOT – District 1 Duluth Office, 1123 Mesaba Avenue, Duluth
• Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

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